More and more domesticated animals are becoming obese. It is estimated that between 20 to 25% of cats are well overweight whilst the percentage stands between 25 to 30% for dogs. This article is going to discuss and illustrate the important aspects of the most common nutritional health condition in pets today.
Obesity is defined as an accumulation of excess body fat. An animal is usually classed as being obese if it weighs 20% or more over its ideal body weight. It is not natural and indeed it is exceedingly rare for a wild cat or dog to be overweight.
Being extremely overweight can lead to numerous health problems for an animal and in some cases can reduce the length and quality of life. Cardiac problems can occur due to strain on the heart and the circulation system. Your pet may develop a shortness of breath, a low tolerance to exercise and the risk of chest complications arising such as bronchitis will increase. Furthermore, additional pressure put on limbs, joints and the spine will add to the chances of your pet developing arthritis, rheumatism or back problems. Worryingly, an obese cat or dog is more at risk when undergoing anaesthesia and surgical operations.
It is frequently the case that many people do not even realise that their pet is overweight until the vet informs them. So what are the signs that your companion might be overweight? The most accurate way of telling if your cat or dog is overweight is to take them to the vet’s. Here they will be weighed on electronic scales and the vet or their staff can discuss your pet’s weight problem and any worries you may have. If you’d like to check for yourself then stand over your animal and see if there is a visible waistline. Additionally, if you can pinch an inch or fat or more over the ribs then there is a good chance that your pet is overweight. Other common signs include: a lethargic demeanour, excessive panting and displaying a reluctance to exercise.
The primary cause of obesity amongst pets is a lack of exercise and over-eating. If the calories consumed do not exceed the calories burnt then they are stored as fat. Old age is also attributed to the gain of weight as the older a pet gets, the slower its metabolism rate becomes. The slower the metabolism; the fewer calories an animal needs. Often people feed their older pets the same amount as when they were younger which leads to a build-up of fat.
If indeed your cat or dog is diagnosed as being obese then the vet will check to see if there is a medical reason for this. If there is not, and it is diet related, then you will be advised on a weight reduction programme for your companion involving a change of diet in both the quantity and the quality of the food source. An increased physical exertion schedule may also be suggested.
Please be aware that this article is for advice only and if you have concerns or worries about your pet then please speak to your veterinarian.
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