On October 14th, the United States recognizes the importance of keeping your pets healthy and has chosen to claim this day as National Pet Obesity Awareness Day. Over the past few years, there has been a large rise in the number of plus-size cats and dogs. In a recent study, more than half of all domesticated cats and dogs were found to be overweight.
On October 14th, the United States recognizes the importance of keeping your pets healthy and has chosen to claim this day as National Pet Obesity Awareness Day. Over the past few years, there has been a large rise in the number of plus-size cats and dogs. In a recent study, more than half of all domesticated cats and dogs were found to be overweight. While it is hard to say no to their sweet faces at the dinner table, it is important to feed your pet a safe, healthy, and balanced diet.
What Is Pet Obesity?
Much like their human companions, dogs and cats can be at risk for health conditions due to unhealthy weight or obesity. Although many look at underweight pets as a cause for concern there is an equal concern for overweight pets. Obesity in cats and dogs accounts for more than a quarter of the population. Obesity is an accumulation of excess body fat that is more than 20% of their healthy weight. Obesity symptoms can range from lack of exercise, eating unhealthy or carb-filled food, too many daily calories, or that naughty family member who gives a third meal because they see sad puppy eyes. Obesity isn’t found in just canines, we often see obesity with our feline friends too.
Four Major Health Risks Obese Pet’s Face
Besides the obvious symptom of eating too many calories and not enough exercise, there are some serious health issues that can lead to excess weight gain. This can be problematic as the excess weight begins to cause chronic long-term issues with joint health, heart health, and overall quality of life. If your cat or dog has gained weight quickly, then diagnostic testing with your veterinarian is suggested. It is best to rule out any imbalances of the thyroid, adrenals, and pancreas before a weight loss program is underway.
- Oftentimes with hypothyroid symptoms (which affects dogs more than cats) owners will notice a few other classic symptoms such as hair thinning, continual weight gain with low-calorie intake, tiredness or lack of desire to exercise, dull coat, and doesn’t tolerate being cold.
- With an imbalance of the adrenals, one would see symptoms that look like Cushing’s disease. Cushing’s is an overactive adrenal gland(s) producing too much cortisol that is typically seen more with dogs than cats. These dogs often have some of the same symptoms as hypothyroid but they look more pot-bellied, skin infections, lethargy, increase water consumption, and all the weight is distinctly around the midsection rather than all-over weight gain.
- An imbalance of the pancreas is to cause concern for diabetes where weight gain is also likely. Diabetes is often shown with symptoms of excessive thirst, changes in appetite and always being hungry, increased urination, thinning hair, dull coat, and possibly cloudy eyes.
- Diabetes is often due to an imbalance of insulin which is a hormone created by the pancreas to help control blood sugar. Your veterinarian can use diagnostic testing to rule out any of these chronic ailments before starting your cat or dog on a weight loss program.
How Much Should My Dog Or Cat Eat?
Oftentimes it is a simple calculation of calories to start the weight loss program. Many people just don't know exactly what and how much to feed their pets. I can think of one customer in particular who needed some help with reducing her dog’s weight after a wellness visit with her veterinarian. When we added all the daily calories together, we realized that she was feeding two and a half times what her dog needed daily. Once we limited the food calories and figured out daily treat calories, we then needed to get all family members on board to help get the weight off! Within just a few months of the adjustments, the dog was back to a healthy weight.
Six Weight Loss Tips For Dogs & Cats
- Toss the red solo or random cup you use to scoop out your pet’s daily food rations. Use an actual measuring cup or scale with feeding time. This ensures the correct daily calorie intake.
- Count treat calories. If there is someone in the house who likes to overtreat, these calories add up quickly! We offer several low-calorie treat options.
- Portion food for the day. This can include treats and is helpful if more than one person is responsible for mealtime.
- Consider adding fresh low-calorie foods. This could be as easy at Primal Bone Broth, Green Juju toppers, or canned pumpkin.
- As we always say at the Pet Beastro, “some raw, is better than no raw.” Raw food can be a great way to make your dog or cat leaner.
- Weight loss takes time. Start with short small walks and work up to longer exercise periods that are doable. For cats, invest in an exercise wheel to help with weight loss.
Eat Healthy, Play Happy
Healthy body weight can be directly linked to a happier and healthier dog or cat. Pets that maintain an ideal body weight are more likely to live longer and are less likely to develop lifelong chronic diseases. Overweight dogs and cats are susceptible to an increased risk for cancer, diabetes, heart disease, urinary bladder stones, and hypertension. Increased body weight can also cause strain on the joints and cause early onset of arthritis.
We Are Here To Help
On your next trip to The Pet Beastro, we have a pet-friendly scale that is free for customers to use with their pets. This is a great way to get a baseline of your pet’s weight. If you feel like you need help with a meal plan for your cat or dog, we offer one-on-one Nutrition Consultations to find the right food for your pet's weight loss program. We can also help with calculating calories, selecting treats, suggesting supplements, and offer support to get you started. Next time you visit us in Madison Heights, Michigan at our retail location or via our natural pet food, treats, toys and supplies store online look around for some healthy goodies and switch up your pet’s diet today!