Excess weight or obesity is a major problem in our domestic dogs and cats and has a significant impact on their health and lifestyle. It can dramatically reduce longevity and contribute to major health conditions. A recent Australian study revealed about 40% of dogs and 30% of cats were overweight or obese and the problem I suspect is getting worse.
We do not have an answer to the questions “how much should I feed my pet?” or “how much should he weigh?” The different breeds of dogs and cats means they come in different sizes and in the case of dogs in different shapes so there is no one answer to the questions. The answer lies in our use of the body condition score by which we assess their shape and the fat levels. We should be able to feel the ribs through a thin fat layer. We should be able to recognize a distinct waist from above and from the side. We use a scoring system from 1-9 where 1 is ultra-thin and 9 is morbid obesity. Both extremes are life threatening but a score of 5 is perfect.
Obesity can lead to a number of health problems including diabetes, lung and heart disease, joint and mobility problems, reduced tolerance to exercise and heat, increased risk with anaesthesia, a reduced quality of life and possibly an increased risk of some cancers. The health problems seen in the pet population, related to obesity, are very similar to those seen in the human population.
We have a number of very effective dietary products now available to help manage the difficult process of weight reduction in our pets. Weight loss is not an easy or quick exercise and can be very frustrating. Call our clinic for some advice on getting your precious pet back into shape.