When you place your hands on your pets side, are his ribs hard to feel or even impossible to feel through a layer of fat? This could mean your pets overweight or obese, conditions veterinarians associate with many potentially painful and even hazardous medical problems that affect over 50% of our pet population! Your Veterinarian can tell you if your pet is overweight. Some of the serious health effects of obesity include arthritis, heart disease, breathing difficulty, diabetes and even bladder cancer, as well as several other conditions. Excess weight can affect your pets energy levels and ability to enjoy a full life. There are many easily identifiable causes of weight gain in pets:
- Overfeeding – Pets with unlimited access to food often become overweight. Feeding puppies and kittens too much can create fat cells that stay with a pet for life.
- Overeating – Many commercial foods are loaded with salt and fat. This improves taste but can result in over-consumption.
- Feeding habits – Feeding table scraps and home cooked meals can lead to obesity.
- Lack of exercise – Too much food and too little exercise can cause weight gain.
- Age – Older, less active pets are prone to weight gain.
- Gender – Female pets are more likely to experience weight gain.
- Neutering – Spayed or neutered pets are twice as likely to become obese. Veterinarians recognize food plays a very important role in treating a pet who is overweight. Along with exercise, a food with reduced fat and calories is essential in helping your pet lose weight and stay fit. Fiber is also a key ingredient in food used for weight loss since it reduces the caloric density of the food while providing the bulk necessary to satisfy your pets hunger.
Once your pet has been overweight, she may be prone to weight gain and should have an ongoing plan based on good diet, exercise and regular check-ups that include weigh-ins. Consult your veterinarian if your pet appears to be overweight.