Many of us make resolutions to resolve to lose weight. More than likely there is a furry friend in the house that is in desperate need of the same resolution. Obesity has become a widespread canine and feline health issue and weight control has received attention not just for its aesthetic results but more importantly for its health benefits.
Obesity is a common and growing disease. It is estimated that approximately 40% of pets are overweight. Obesity is the result of either excessive dietary intake or inadequate exercise, which causes a state of positive energy balance. Numerous factors may predispose an individual to obesity including genetics, the amount of physical activity, and the energy content of the diet. It has been proven, that obesity can have detrimental effects on the health and longevity of our pets. Cats and dogs that are overweight are more at risk of developing arthritis, diabetes, heart and lung diseases, urinary disorders, reproductive deficiency, skin problems, and anesthetic complications.
Obesity may seem like an easy disease to manage. After all, most pets are completely dependent on us for their meals. However, obesity can be a real challenge to control. Many people bond with their pet through feeding treats. It is very common to leave a dish full of food for the pet to eat at their leisure. Some families have multiple pets and cannot control the amount or type of food that each pet requires. Many pet owners feed table scraps, and often scraps that are high in fat content. And some pets just don’t have the metabolism that works for weight loss.
Good nutrition is essential for a healthy pet. Proper feeding habits with nutritious food on a regular schedule can help prevent disease, nutritional deficiencies as well as irritation and malfunction of the digestive tract. Avoiding table scraps all together will minimize excess calories and reduce stomach irritation.
The main therapeutic options for obesity in companion animals include dietary management and increasing physical activity. There are many diets available to pet owners for their cats and dogs. At Twin Valley VHS, we recommend discussing your pet’s age, weight, diet, and activity with your veterinarian. Your veterinary team will help formulate a diet plan specifically for you and your pet. They will give a targeted weight and time frame to achieve your pet’s goals.
At Twin Valley Veterinary Health Services, we believe that activity is just as important as a proper diet. If your pet has a weight problem or you want to avoid that problem, make it a priority to exercise your pet. Take your dog for long walks, bike rides, play fetch, or take him tobogganing with you. Cats also need exercise. They should chase a string, light, or mouse like objects. They too can learn to play fetch. Encourage them to use the stairs more frequently by placing their food dish on another level.
Obesity is a growing hazard for many of our pets. We encourage you to acknowledge your pet’s disease and make a strong effort to resolve it in 2015. Obesity can be a very frustrating problem to control. Patience and persistence is vital. If you have any questions regarding the above information or any questions/concerns in general, please contact Twin Valley VHS at 745-6642.
Dr. Justin Noble DVM
Twin Valley Veterinary Health Services