We look at our pets with the eyes of love. They simply are ours, and we love them no matter what. Sometimes our pets gain weight gradually... so slowly that we are shocked when our veterinarian says they overweight, or... the dreaded term... OBESE!
Sometimes an overweight dog or cat is seen as being cute or funny, but excess weight on a pet is no laughing matter. Fat pets are prone to many of the same health ailments that humans are: heart disease, joint problems, diabetes and even some forms of cancer. Not only are these diseases expensive to manage, they take years off the life of your pet.
This is a simplified chart to identify what healthy weight generally looks like in both dogs and cats. Of course breed type has to be taken into consideration, as certain breeds naturally look very thin such as Greyhounds and Oriental body type cats. Others naturally have a more stout appearance such as English Bulldogs and Persian cats. In these cases, your veterinarian can give you guidelines for your particular breed. A heavy coat can also mask the true appearance of the body.
If you feel your pet is either mildly thin or slightly overweight, usually simple adjustments to the diet can be made along with activity levels. If your pet falls into the obese or very thin category, it is recommended to have veterinary evaluation and guidance. There are several medical issues that can contribute to malnutrition, and these need to be ruled out as dietary adjustments will not cure underlying health issues... though it cannot be stressed enough that a good diet is foundational to good health!
Pets are sensitive to changes in routine, and we need to take care not to make adjustments too quickly in our efforts to help our pets. For example, putting an obese dog on a strenuous exercise regimen, who's joints are already under pressure from excess weight, could cause damage to the joints that could require surgery. Likewise, cats especially need to be supervised with weight loss as cats on a diet can quickly develop fatty liver disease, which can be fatal.
Control portions gradually. If a food change is required, mix a little of the new food in with the old, gradually increasing the amount until the old food is replaced over a span of a week or two. This will mitigate any gastric distress.
Exercise changes should also be gradual to give the muscles a chance to slowly strengthen and protect the vulnerable joints.
Has your pet had struggles with weight?
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