Battle of the Bulge: Weight Management in Pets
This holiday season, you may find yourself wondering if that extra piece of pecan pie is worth the calories. You aren’t the only one who needs to be watching your waistline, though. We know now more than ever that pets who are overweight suffer from health problems and decreased lifespan, just as we do.
With over half of the nation’s dog and cat population considered overweight or obese, weight management in pets is an important part of proper care. Learn how The Whole Pet Vet is helping pet owners keep animals healthier, one pound at a time.
The Weight of the Issue
Round, squishy pets are cute, right? Well, that may be so, but there is nothing funny about an overweight animal. Just as in people, studies are revealing that pets who carry a few extra pounds are at increased risk for developing a slew of health problems. These include:
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases
- Respiratory problems
- Kidney disease
- Other joint conditions, including cranial cruciate ligament rupture
In fact, some studies show pets who are overweight to have a reduced lifespan of 2.5-3 years less than their leaner counterparts.
How Fat is Too Fat?
So, how do you know if your pet is too fat? That’s all just fur, right? All pet owners, with our help, should get a clear idea what their pets’ optimal weights should be. Start at home by taking a step back. Notice if you can see a waistline or if your pet’s stomach sags from both above and from the side. If your pet does not have a thick coat, note if you can see ribs or not.
It is also important to put your hands on your pet. You should be able to feel the ribs easily without having to push through a fatty layer of tissue.
Using this information, you can then grade your pet on a body condition score chart. This can help determine where your pet falls in the weight category and give you a rough idea of how much work you have to do. During your pet’s wellness visits, we will also assign our body condition score and discuss your pet’s weight with you.
Weight Management in Pets
Reining in weight can be easier said than done. As you might expect, weight management in pets often involves some extra work and dedication. Adhering to proper portion control and encouraging exercise are obviously important, but you are not in it alone. Our expert staff can help with your pet’s weight management through:
Nutritional consultations – Diet is a key component of weight management for most pets. We are happy to sit down with you and evaluate your pet’s current eating habits and put together a diet plan tailored to your pet.
Diagnostic testing – Sometimes pets have an underlying medical condition, such as hypothyroidism, that is contributing to their weight issue. We are able to rule these possibilities in or out in order to maximize your pet’s success.
Physical rehabilitation – Rehab isn’t just for injured patients! We are happy to work with patients to develop a wellness exercise program to encourage weight loss, improve strength and flexibility, prevent injury, and improve coordination.
It is our goal to keep your pet happy and healthy for a long time to come, and weight management goes a long way to making this happen. We are here to help you, no matter the situation, and promise to work with you and your furry friend to shed those pounds, one at a time.