Nutrition & Weight Management
Obesity is on the rise in the pet population - and its repercussions are serious. A 2017 clinical survey taken by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention found that an estimated 56% of canines and 60% of felines are overweight or obese in the United States. These numbers only continue to rise.
With this in mind, it's important to our medical team to aid in keeping our patients at an ideal body weight, active, and eating nutrient dense diets in proper portion sizes.
Consequences of excess fat in pets include respiratory disorders, kidney dysfunction, liver disease, chronic inflammation, metabolic and endocrine disorders, high blood pressure, orthopedic disease, skin disorders, cancer, and diminished life expectancy and lesser quality of life.
Like humans, weight gain in pets is gradual and does not happen overnight. However, it is not always easy to notice a few extra pounds in our animal counterparts. For small dogs and cats, it only takes a few pounds to make a huge difference in their health and quality of life.
Consult with your veterinarian if your pet is overweight or obese. Weight loss is not an easy or fast process, but it is entirely possible with a little bit of patience and the expert guidance of our medical team.
So, why are so many pets overweight or obese? Consider the following factors:
- Food is often associated with love and, because we love our pets so much, we tend to fall into the trap of showering pets with an excess amount of treats and food, which in turn leads to high caloric intake.
- Lack of Exercise. When our lives and schedules are busy, it's easy to get in the habit of opening the back door and allowing your dog to go spend some time outside. Although this may seem like an adequate amount of physical activity, for many dogs it is not. A simple daily walk is typically all of the physical exercise most dogs need to balance out calories consumed and calories burned. In addition, exercise is equally as important for cats as it is for dogs. Choose toys that require your cat to jump, chase, and hunt, such as a laser pointer.
- Premature spay/neuter procedure can elicit hormonal changes than cause reduced caloric requirements, which can slow down metabolism and lead to weight gain.
- Pet Parents. When people are exposed to environments with a high amount of overweight and obesity, they often develop inaccurate perceptions of what constitutes a normal body shape. This can contribute to an increase prevalence of obesity within the pet population.
- Medications. Certain medications can cause weight gain when increased appetite is a common side effect. For example, phenobarbital (a common anti-seizure medication) and Prednisone (a common steroid).