Obesity affects more than 50 percent of America’s pet population. Pets that are overweight are more prone to developing certain types of health problems including arthritis, heart disease, breathing issues, and diabetes. For some pets the excess weight can mean less energy for playing.
Cats and dogs typically gain weight from eating too much, especially when combined with not enough exercise. Other factors can make your pet predisposed to being overweight. While eating too many calories is the most common reason pets…factors such as these listed below can contribute to making weight harder to manage.
- Age: As pets age they are often less active and thus require fewer calories. Your vet can help you adjust portions and types of food as your pet ages.
- Breed: Some dog breeds are more likely to gain weight. This makes it extra important to keep calories in check and have an exercise plan in place starting at an early age.
- Medical Problems: Several medical problems such as hypothyroidism, Cushings disease, and diabetes can be associated with weight gain. If your pet experiences sudden weight change it is important to see your pet’s vet as soon as possible.
- Overfeeding and Overeating: Feeding the correct amount and type of food for your pets needs is important in achieving and maintaining correct weight. Dogs with unlimited access to food will typically eat more than they need.
- Feeding habits: Feeding table scraps and too many other foods and treats on top of the recommended amount of dog or cat food is one of the most common causes of obesity. May dogs do well with low calorie treats such as green beans or zucchini. Other ways to decrease calories include breaking treats into multiple smaller pieces to make them last longer.
- Lack of exercise: Too much food and too little exercise can easily cause your pet to become obese.
Each pet is unique. Our veterinarians will evaluate and discuss what adjustments are needed to keep your pet in top shape. Between check-ups you can place your hands on your dog’s side. If his or her ribs are difficult to feel it is likely they are overweight. Cats often carry their extra weight underneath their bellies.