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  • Writer's pictureThe Veterinary Clinic

Pet Obesity

collage of overweight pug on scale with green beans in background

The holiday season brings family, friends, and lots of food! Gaining those holiday pounds can make us feel bad, along with making our four-legged friends feel bad as well.

Over half of our pet population is overweight. Obesity is a rising problem and can cause serious health issues. From diabetes to exercise intolerance. The cause of our four-legged friends expanding waistline can be due to a variety of reasons. The most common reason for weight gain is free feeding and having an unhealthy diet, such as food's high in calories and frequent treats. Other reasons can be due to medical conditions, such as:

  • Hypothyroidism

  • Diabetes

  • Hyperadrenocorticism

  • Castration or Ovariohysterectomy

  • Osteoarthritis

Schedule an appointment with one of our veterinarians for a consultation about your pet's nutritional health. During your scheduled appointment, your veterinarian will rule out any medical conditions before starting your pet on a weight loss plan.

If your pet does not have any medical illnesses, your veterinarian will recommend switching your pet's diet and treats to a low-calorie brand. Your veterinarian will develop a daily food requirement and calorie plan that will help you select the right type of food and treats. They will also give you the correct feeding measurements and exercise plans.

How can you tell if your pet is at the right weight?

A Body condition score is an assessment of the amount of body fat on your pet. The scoring range from a Body Score of 1- Severely Underweight to a Body Score of 9- Severely Obese.

How to measure your pet's Body Condition Score

  • Rib Check: while your pet is standing, run both of your hands across your pet ribcage. Note if you can easily feel or see your pet's rib cage, backbone, and hip bones.

  • Profile Check: while your pet is standing, view your pet's profile from a side angle. Note if you can easily see and feel your pet's ribs, backbone, and pelvic bone. Look at your pet's waistline to see if it's easily seen and if your pet's tummy appears tucked up behind the rib cage.

  • Overhead Check: While your pet is standing, look down at them and note if you can easily see your pet's ribs, backbone, and pelvic bone. Look at your pet's waistline to see if it's easily seen or if it bulges outwards and if it sags downwards.

If your pet is overweight, you'll notice a lack of energy and exercise. Swimming, fetch, jogging, or doggy daycare are ways you can help get your pet back into shape. Monitor their exercise intolerance, difficulty breathing, and heat intolerance. For many dogs, a simple 10-15 minute daily walk is a great way to start. You can gradually increase the amount of time walking, depending on your pet's exercise tolerance. Daily walks can help get your dog to their ideal body weight. If your dog has orthopedic issues, swimming is another great way to help get your pet back into shape. Getting your cat to exercise is a little more tricky. Try using toys that will entice your cat to chase, jump, and play. Hiding a small amount of low-calorie treats around the house should increase their prey drive as they hunt for their food.

The most loving thing you could do for your overweight pet is to put them on a diet to help reduce their risk of developing medical issues. Schedule an appointment with one of our veterinarians to help you develop a nutritional and weight loss plan for your pet. Let's keep our pet's health a priority.

Happy Holidays and remember, don't let your pet pack on those holiday pounds!


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