Overweight Pets: Furry or Fat?

He just has a lot of fur… How many times have you used that to describe your companion? Being overweight is the most common nutritional problem in both dogs and cats, affecting 1 out of every 4 pets. As little as one extra pound can deprive your pet of its natural vitality and increase the risk of health problems. While changing your companion’s diet and behavior can be challenging, the right approach—and plenty of patience—will help them to shed those extra pounds.

The most common factor to pet obesity is simply overeating and lack of exercise. Knowing how much to feed your pet isn’t always the easiest, and supplementing your companion’s diet with table scraps, snacks, and other foods can complicate the problem. For your pet to lose weight you must first talk to your veterinarian.


Feeding and Exercise

Cooperation of every family member is key to a successful weight loss program beginning with scheduled feeding. If you have other pets in the house, be sure not to feed them at the same time, and to feed them in separate rooms to avoid food sharing.

Simply limiting the amount of food you feed your pet may not be the best approach to managing weight. Our pets, like us, need the right balance of protein, fat, and fiber for successful weight loss. Fortunately, veterinary medicine has made a number of medical and therapeutic advances in treating obesity in cats and dogs.

Your veterinarian may recommend a reduced-calorie, high-fiber weight control formula prescription diet—products carried at Delavan Lakes Veterinary Clinic are highly recommended by our veterinarians. These foods are useful for preventing the recurrence of weight gain. Available in canned and dry forms, these diets can help your pet lose fat while maintaining lean muscle.

Whether it is a walk or run around the block, playing fetch out in the yard, chasing a laser pointer, or jumping for a feathered wand, be sure to exercise your companion on a daily basis. Exercise is healthy and increases the chance of weight loss success!

Without exercise as part of your companion’s program, he or she may fail to lose weight—even if they are on a low-calorie diet. Exercise should be increased gradually, especially if your companion has orthopedic, heart, or lung conditions. Start increasing their daily activity level, gradually increasing the amount of exercise over time. Frequent monitoring from your vet will help ensure your pet is losing the right amount of weight in the proper timeframe and weight.

Weighty Consequences

Research shows overweight companions are more at risk to develop health complications than pets at a healthy weight. These problems can diminish the quality of life and may even shorten the lives of our beloved companions.

Common health problems associated with pet obesity include:
Diabetes mellitus                              Lameness  
Heart disease                                   Exercise intolerance and overheating
Skin diseases                                   Urinary tract diseases
Liver disease and failure                  Osteoarthritis and ligament damage
Anesthetic and surgical risks           Reduced life span

Are your pets overweight - furry or fat?

How Can You Help?

Once successful weight loss has been obtained, periodic wellness visits can help you maintain your companion’s lower body weight and renewed vitality. It is important to maintain a healthier, optimal weight. Be patient but firm with your companion. The success or failure of the weight loss program depends on how well you stick to the new feeding regimen.

Since it is easier to avoid obesity than try to repair it later, it’s best not to start your pet on bad eating habits in the first place. A comprehensive weight-reduction program includes proper nutrition, exercise, and wellness visits.

Remember that it is important to contact your veterinarian before starting any weight loss regimen. Your veterinarian will help determine the best weight management program for your companion. Then follow the plan, celebrate each success achieved, and enjoy many healthy, happy years together!