Pet Weight Management
According the recent studies, 30 to 40 percent of all pets in the United States are overweight, making obesity one of the most common diseases affecting dogs and cats today. Obesity can cause serious medical conditions such as diabetes, respiratory issues, arthritis, heart disease, and skeletal deformities. In general, obesity can reduce an animal’s life span by approximately three years. Because pets generally weigh much less than people, just one or two pounds can make a vast difference. A 10-pound overweight cat who only needs to lose 2 pounds is actually 20% overweight. Although the cat is only a couple of pounds overweight, he is still considered obese.
There are several factors that can contribute to weight gain in our pets. It is important for us to know these items and to make a true effort to help keep our pets their healthiest. Here are some of the primary causes:
- Overfeeding – pets with unlimited access to food often become overweight. Feeding puppies and kittens too much can create fat cells that stay with them for their entire 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 more prone to weight gain.
- Gender – female pets are more likely to experience weight gain.
- Neutering – spayed or neutered pets are more likely to become obese because of a more sedentary lifestyle.
In addition to exercise, feeding your pet the proper diet is extremely important for them to maintain a healthy weight. Diets that contain fewer calories, a reduced fat content, and a high fiber content are ideal for weight management in pets. The daily caloric intake for a pet must be lower than his/her daily energy requirement. Another important factor in maintaining a healthy weight for your pet is the feeding method being used. Meal feeding is the best way to feed your pet as it strictly allows you to control the amount of food that your pet receives. Instead of feeding table scraps or salty treats for snacks, try giving your pet fruits and raw vegetables as healthy treats (apples, carrots, broccoli, oranges, etc.).
Here at Hoof N Paw Veterinary Hospital we have a weight management program and are committed to working hard to help our patients with weight loss and to educate our clients about obesity and the importance of nutrition.