Tipping the Scales: Protecting Overweight Pets From Obesity

Overweight cat

With the holidays behind us (how did that happen so fast?), many people are looking ahead to 2018. Maybe we want to eat better, exercise more, or just become more fit overall. As we think about our own health, why not take your pet’s weight and health into account, as well? There’s no better time than the beginning of a new year to take stock.

Is My Pet Overweight?

Did you know that over 50% of pets in the U.S. are classified as overweight or obese? This is true for both dogs and cats. We might think it’s no big deal, and some of us might even think our pudgy friends are cuddlier that way. In reality, however, overweight pets are at a greater risk for health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and cancer. On the other hand, pets who reach and maintain a healthy weight reduce their risk of illness and injury, lead longer lives, and have better overall health.

So, how do you know if you have an overweight pet? Your veterinarian can assess your pet’s weight and overall health and make recommendations regarding weight, diet, and exercise. More than a simple number on a scale, a healthy weight is about body composition, breed, age, and general health. In our office, we can teach you how to determine your pet’s body condition by observing their shape and feeling certain parts of their body, which is a great tool in determining if your pet is at a healthy weight.

I Have an Overweight Pet – Now What?

Not to worry. First, this is not a reflection on you or your ability to care for your pet! A weight loss recommendation is just your veterinarian’s commitment to your pet’s good health. At Fairview Veterinary Hospital, we’ve put together a few ideas to keep your pet on the path to a healthy weight:

All in the family — Make a commitment as a family to your pet’s weight loss. A weight loss program won’t work if one or more family members are sneaking food to your pet! Those sad begging eyes can be tough to resist (we know!), but try to keep focused on your pet’s overall health to dissuade people from giving extra treats and meals.

The best quality diet —  Talk to us about your pet’s individual needs. We can help you choose a quality diet that meets your pet’s nutritional needs.

Measuring every meal — What you don’t measure, you can’t manage! We can determine exactly how much to feed your pet and provide you with a measuring cup to make sure your pet stays on track.

Regular exercise — Try a new activity with your pet! Swimming, hiking, or a fast game of laser pointer tag can be great exercise, both physically and mentally. Exercising together can also be a great way to bond with your pet.

Treating them well — Most of us love sharing treats with our pets as a way to express our love. However, all those extra calories can quickly derail weight loss efforts for your pet. Instead, try unseasoned fresh or cooked veggies and fruits like carrots, green beans, or apples.

Checking progress — Once a goal is set for your pet’s weight loss, it’s important to monitor and record your pet’s progress. Like any weight loss program, there will be wins and missteps. Together, we can ensure your pet stays on track and can help you make any necessary adjustments along the way.

Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is an effective way to give your pet a healthier, longer life. Having some fun along the way is an added bonus! If you’d like to share any ideas for healthy pet weight loss or if you’d like additional help, please give us a call.