Pet Obesity On The Rise
What is pet obesity?
Obesity is the most common nutritional disorder seen in cats and dogs. In Australia, it’s estimated that 40% of cats are considered obese. ‘Obesity’ is commonly used as a term for being overweight, however more specifically it is a condition where a pet’s weight is more than 15% above ideal.
Some causes of obesity
We have little control over some contributing factors to obesity; e.g. breed, sex, heredity, and age. However, there are others which we can control, these being over-feeding and exercise. Most obesity is caused simply because a pet eats more calories than they need. This, in combination with a lack of exercise means the excess calories are stored as body fat.
Why pets overeat.
We often equate an animal’s food requirements with our own leading to over-feeding and feeding the wrong foods.
Boredom or emotional stress and hormonal influence
Neutered/desexed animals have a tendency to gain weight as their metabolism is slowed down, owners overfeed and not enough exercise (This however is not a good reason to not get your animal desexed).
Competition in multi-pet households
We often witness a dominant animal which may eat more than their fair share as a way of establishing a pecking order.
Risks for the overweight pet…
Susceptibility to infection
Increased surgical & anaesthetic risk
Earlier onset of joint problems e.g. arthritis
Decreased quality of life
Does your pet have a weighty problem?
If you answer ‘yes’ to any of the questions below, or if you think your pet is not at its optimum body condition, you may want to talk to your veterinary staff.
Weighty Questions (Y or N)
Do you have difficulty feeling your pet’s ribs?
Is there little or no ‘waist’?
Do you give your pet table scraps or left over’s?
Is your pet reluctant to exercise?
Does your pet seem to tire easily with activity?
Does your pet waddle when it walks?
Does your pet keep eating so long as there is food in the bowl?
Has your pet been desexed?
Have you been told your pet is overweight?
A solution to the problem
If your pet has a weight problem, (this includes being underweight)
The inclusion of regulated exercise helps promote a total health focus for maximum benefit to your pet.
Overweight pets are likely to:
Live a less active and shorter life
Be more prone to joint and mobility problems
Develop skin problems and a lower resistance to infection
Be at greater risk during surgery
Be disinterested in exercise and play