It’s officially the New Year, and if you’re anything like us, you’re probably ringing it in with a resolution or two! If getting fit and healthy is on your list for 2022, why not make your pet an accountability partner?
Just like us, the overall health and wellbeing of our pets may suffer if they are overweight or obese. And unfortunately, studies show that pet obesity is on the rise. So, make fitness a joint resolution to help your pet lose a few pounds this year, and gain a whole lot of life in return!
What is pet obesity?
Obesity in pets can be defined as excess body fat that impairs the health and wellbeing of the animal. Occasionally, obesity is due to underlying health conditions, however the main cause for obesity is usually due to overeating and lack of exercise. Some other factors that may make your pet more prone to becoming obese include:
● The traits of their particular breed ● Elderly age – older pets are at higher risk ● Neutered dogs are more likely to become obese ● Female dogs and cats typically carry more fat mass, so may be at a greater risk of developing obesity Unfortunately, many animals may potentially suffer from obesity. But, getting back into a healthy lifestyle is possible!
How do I know if my pet is obese?
To see if your pet may be overweight, you can do a few simple home checks that will allow you to distinguish if they are obese.
• When viewed from the side, your dog's stomach should be tucked up. • You should be able to see and feel your dog's waist and it should be clearly visible when viewed from above. • You should be able to see and feel your dog's ribs without excess fat covering it. • If you feel your dog doesn't meet these requirements, or you are unsure, consult your vet for further advice.
It’s recommended that you give your Dog a Quick Health Check - www.harrishounds.com/post/new-year-health-check-that-you-can-do-from-home-during-lockdown, or book for an annual exam at your vet – this means your pet’s weight will be monitored more closely, and allows for a better understanding on the cause of obesity.
Obesity related health concerns
Just like us, it is imperative that our pets are being provided with the right diet and exercise regime to maintain a healthy quality of life. Also like us, dogs are animals that will eat even if they’re not hungry, and so some owners may accidentally overfeed their pets.
If your Dog is obese then this condition could very well reduce your pet’s length and quality of life. Obesity can also exacerbate underlying health issues, or create further complications down the line, such as:
● Diabetes ● Heart disease ● Respiratory distress ● High blood pressure ● Cancer
Obesity in pets is a serious welfare issue, as it can cause suffering and disability issues that your pet would not encounter if healthy.
Ways to Prevent Obesity
To prevent your pet from becoming obese, ensure that their food consumption consists of a healthy diet, as well as an appropriate amount of exercise to suit their breed requirements.
If you feel your pet has a healthy diet and the right amount of exercise but is still overweight, this could be due to an underlying health condition so be sure to consult your vet.
Closely monitor and control your pet's diet, ensuring that they do not eat more than they should. Follow package serving sizes based on your pet’s age and weight, perhaps measuring by weight instead of in a cup. Also, do not feed your dog leftover meals - especially if they have already eaten!
Treats shouldn’t make up more than 10% of your pet’s diet, so if you like to reward your pet with treats for training or just generally being a good boy or girl, try scaling back the amount of food they regularly receive.
It is difficult to determine a general diet that is appropriate for all pets, as each species and breed is unique, so it’s best to enquire at your vets to get a better understanding of your pets’ individual needs. The same can be applied for exercise, though it’s widely accepted that most dogs should get a minimum of thirty minutes exercise each day – and ideally more than that!
Where do I go from here?
If you are worried or concerned about your pet’s weight, you can always consult your vet as they will give you appropriate individual advice. We recommend taking your pet in for an annual exam to assess your pet’s overall health and coming up with a plan to tackle weight loss or other health concerns!
We love our animal family members, and want to give them the best care possible, so what better way to start the new year than to give them a shot at a long, happy and healthy life?