Did you know that pet obesity shortens lives and is a big (no pun intended) problem for many of our pets? An outstanding 58% of cats and 54% of dogs are overweight or obese.
There is no doubt that being overweight negatively impacts a pet’s health and longevity. A large, lifetime study was done by one of the major food companies. The study was made up of two large groups of Labrador retrievers. They found that being even moderately overweight can reduce canine life expectancy by nearly two years compared to their leaner counterparts. You read that right, TWO YEARS! On top of that, the overweight dogs also developed other signs of aging two years earlier in their life.
Previously, fat was considered to be relatively useless, only storing excess energy calories and adding to body mass. Scientific evidence now reveals that fat tissue is biologically active. It secretes inflammatory hormones and creates oxidative stress on the body’s tissue, both of which can lead to many diseases.
The way we look at obesity has changed. We now think of it as a slow chronic condition that can lead to other serious conditions, if left unchanged.
Obesity in pets can lead to other issues such as:
- Cancers of all types, diabetes mellitus, heart disease and hypertension
- Osteoarthritis and a faster degeneration of affected joints
- Urinary bladder stones
- Anesthetic complications as they’re less heat tolerant
On the other hand, obesity can be secondary to other conditions in dogs such as hypothyroidism and/or Cushing’s disease (hypoadrenocorticism). Comprehensive lab work will help to diagnose these conditions. Yearly blood work is very important in all pets of any age and weight but especially important in our obese or even mildly overweight patients.
If you are unsure if your pet is at a good weight, we can help. With an exam, our doctors can assess your pet’s Body Condition Score. It’s not always just about a number on the scale. If we find that your pet is overweight we will give you a goal weight and a plan on how to get there. Every pet and every home situation is different, and one regimen doesn’t always work for everyone. Our scale is your scale, feel free to come in anytime and we can weigh your pet for you and record into our system so we can track the progress. Regular weigh-ins are an important component of a successful weight loss plan. It is also important to verify weight loss, to ensure that weight loss is neither too rapid nor excessive and to determine when enough weight has been lost.
Once an ideal body condition has been achieved, maintenance is the key. Once again, our doctors and staff will be happy to help you find a new routine to keep the weight off.
If you have any questions about your pet’s weight or eating habits, please call us so we can help you at (830) 625-8074!