Obesity is a problem in many of our companion animals. It is due to the sedentary lifestyles our pets lead. The animals are no longer required to hunt and forage for food, so they can easily become overweight. There are certain breeds particularly prone to obesity; however any breed can be affected. The main causes for overweight animals are high calorie diets and lack of exercise, however there are medical conditions which can cause weight gain, so it may be in your pet’s best interest to have a consultation with a veterinarian.

Obesity can lead to serious health problems such diabetes, earlier onset of arthritis, breathing difficulties and complications during surgery. If an animal is overweight, the body is under a constant state of inflammation making the animal feel unwell. In one clinical study, it was found that pets that were trim lived an average of 2 years more than their overweight counterparts.

What are the advantages of having a lean pet? Your pet will not be in a constant state of inflammation and will feel better with more energy. It may also delay the onset of arthritis leading to less pain and medication the pet will need later on in life. Trim pets on average live longer and healthier lives . Weight problems are not limited to cats and dogs. Smaller pets such as rabbits, mice, rats, and others, can also suffer from being overweight. These pets lead lifestyles that are conducive to weight gain. So careful monitoring of these pets should be started when young.
What can be done about my animal’s weight?
1. Feeding fewer calories - If you are planning on feeding your animal less, it may still be hungry. An alternative would be to feed the animal a diet designed for weight loss. There are several brands available which have proven results. First, these diets are very well made and are completely balanced with the correct levels of energy, protein, and trace minerals required for a healthy animal. Secondly, the diet has indigestible plant fibre in it which acts like a filler. The fibre absorbs the fluid within the stomach and expands making the animal feel full without giving it added energy. Thirdly, there is L-carnitine in which helps to increase the metabolism making the pet burn more calories. Lastly, there are glucosamine, chondriotin, and antioxidants which maintain healthy cartilage in the joints.
2. Frequent gentle exercise - A common misconception is to exercise more. In our opinion, increasing the amount of exercise alone rarely results in weight loss. Secondly, in an overweight animal, it may have arthritis at the same time and exercising it for longer may aggravate its arthritis. We recommend gentle and frequent exercise. For example, instead of taking the dog for a long walk, it may be better to take 2 shorter walks. Alternatively, taking the dog for a swim. It is high resistance and is low impact which is good for arthritic joints. For cats, it would be hard to take the cat to the beach or get it to swim, but cats can be taught to walk on a lead like a dog or changing the place it eats may help. Such as placing the food bowl away from the water bowl forcing the cat to walk between bowls to eat and drink.
3. Home cooked diets – Home cooked diets can work but they can be labour intensive. The diets need to be complete as well. In our opinion, it may be easier and healthier to give your beloved animal a commercially made diet.

Pets that are overweight are a common problem that we face. We want all pets to live healthy and long lives, and getting them into a normal weight range can help with this. We encourage anyone with any questions to contact the clinic on 5250-3300.