What You Need to Know About the Dangers of Pet Obesity

Obesity isn’t just a human problem, it’s a pet problem, too. Obesity doesn’t just slow our dogs, cats, rabbits, and other pets down, it also shortens their lives. Overweight pets are more at risk for many diseases and health issues and the extra weight can have a negative impact on the pet’s quality of life.

So what do you need to know to prevent pet obesity?

How Big of a Problem is Obesity for American Pets?

Over half of our pets are considered overweight or obese. In 2018, 60% of cats in America were overweight or obese and 56% of dogs were considered too plump. Exactly how many pets does that amount to? Almost 100 million. That’s a lot of excess pounds!

While this has a huge impact on pet health, it also affects how much people pay for veterinary care. One report from 2016 estimates that Americans paid an extra $62 million dollars in vet bills for obesity-related issues.

With numbers like these, many people consider pet obesity an epidemic.

How Did Our Pets Get So Fat?

The world of veterinary nutrition has grown leaps and bounds over the past decades. We’ve seen a lot of progress in our understanding of what pets need to eat to be healthy. Yet this problem seems to increase just as quickly. In fact, studies show that rates of pet obesity have continuously climbed since 2009.

So, how do pets, despite having balanced diets, nutritional guidelines, and portion recommendations still get so big? Pet parents tend to overfeed, over-treat, and let their pets overindulge in handouts.

People love their pets. And sometimes this love manifests in feeding. We get that. But obesity is preventable. So, we’re happy to chat with you about other forms of affection your pet might enjoy. We also have some great tips on ignoring those puppy eyes.

Obesity is Painful and Shortens Pets’ Lives

When it comes to pets, extra weight isn’t a minor health issue. It’s the difference between your pet becoming ill and having a shorter life, or living healthily and happily into her advanced years.

Some complications of obese pets have a higher risk for include:

For Dogs

  • Arthritis
  • Urinary Tract Disease and Bladder Issues
  • Liver Disease
  • Thyroid Problems
  • Torn Knee Ligaments
  • Diabetes
  • Spinal Issues
  • Kidney Disease
  • Heart Failure
  • High Blood Pressure

For Cats

  • Bladder Issues and Urinary Tract Disease
  • Chronic Kidney Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Liver Disease
  • Arthritis
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Heart Failure
  • Gall Bladder Disorder
  • Spinal Issues

Additionally, carrying around extra weight does a number on your pet’s joints and mood. Pets that can’t get around don’t have as much fun.  And many studies show an increased risk of cancer and a decrease in a pet’s life expectancy - by up to two years - in overweight pets.



How Can You Tell if Your Pet is Obese?

Sometimes it can be hard to tell (or admit) that your pet is overweight. We’ve heard it all, from “he’s not overweight, he’s just fluffy” or “she’s not obese, she just has a thick coat.” Many pet parents feel guilty when their pet gets on the scale, but you should only feel guilty if you’re unwilling to try to help your pet.

So, take a moment and do a quick check to see if your pet may be a little chubbier than she should be.

Common signs that your dog or cat is overweight include:

  • Enough fat over their ribs that it’s difficult to feel them
  • A tummy that is wider than her ribs
  • A tummy that tends to hang down.
  • Slowing down and not being able to jump, run, or maneuver like they used to.

How You Can Fight the Pet Obesity Epidemic

The first step to helping your pet is recognizing that they are overweight. Still not sure if after you’ve read the list above? Give us a call.

We can work together to tailor a weight loss plan for your pet. We can look at options, including

  • Diet
  • Portion control
  • Strategies that help pet parents not overfeed
  • Treats
  • Exercise routine

Chubby Pets May Be Adorable But Their Condition Is Not

Help fight the battle against pet obesity and keep your pet in a healthy shape. Weight control can lengthen your pet’s life and improve her quality of life. It’s up to you to keep your pet healthy but we’re here to help you every step of the way. Just give us a call and we’re happy to chat about a plan during your next appointment.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

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