Health problems associated with obesity
- Increased stress on heart and blood circulation
- Increased load on joints and skeleton
- Higher incidence of respiratory problems
- Higher anaesthetic risk
- Increases surgical difficulty
- Increased risk of Diabetes (mellitus)
Ways of dealing with overweight animals
No pet should be put onto a crash diet. Overweight cats are especially at risk of liver disease if their diet is dramatically restricted. Care should be taken to reduce the calories but provide the other nutrients essential for a healthy pet. It can be a lengthy process e.g. dogs and cats that are over 15% heavier than acceptable will probably take about 12 – 16 weeks to lose it and a further 12-16 weeks for every extra 15% of extra weight.
Before any animal is put onto a low calorie dietary regime it must be examined by a veterinary surgeon who can rule out any other problem.
Dogs and Cats
- Join a weight loss club – for animals!
Your veterinary surgery will be able to provide you with plenty of advice on ways to achieve a healthy weight for your pet. Many clubs run weighing clinics where experienced nursing staff will be able to spend time discussing the plan and any problems you may be experiencing.
- Reduce calorie intake
If the pet is just getting tubby then reducing its regular diet by up to 20% can help provided you increase its exercise. If the animal is already overweight the most effective way to regain a healthy bodyweight is to use a commercially prepared low calorie balanced diet. This provides the standard quantity of essential nutrients but lower calories. You must still increase exercise. It is possible to get some weight reduction by feeding less of the animal’s regular diets and bulking it up with raw vegetables. This might be suitable for animals which are a little overweight but care should be taken if this diet regime continues beyond a few weeks as the quantity of essential nutrients may be affected.
- Increase exercise
Bear in mind the physical condition of the animal and previous exercise routines. A sensible increase should be calculated that is also possible for you, the owner, to achieve. It may be easier to exercise more often or to increase the length of time of exercise
- Control treats
If you feel it is important to give your pet a treat keep these to a minimum and calculate an allowance within the animal’s daily calorie intake protocol. Giving a reward for good behaviour is important but doesn’t have to be in the shape of food e.g. most dogs really enjoy the extra attention of a big hug and a few warm words.
A note of caution….
There are some conditions that cause an animal to have an overweight or bloated appearance.
If your animal suddenly becomes bloated quickly over a few minutes it is very important to contact your veterinary surgeon immediately and make transportation arrangements to get your pet to the vet very quickly.
Other medical conditions such as thyroid problems, Cushing’s disease or some heart problems can lead to the animal putting on a lot of weight, especially around the hind quarters and abdominal area, probably over a few days or slightly longer. This shouldn’t be confused with the animal becoming overweight and in these circumstances the animal needs immediate veterinary attention.