If you’re overweight, you probably know the risks it poses to your health and well-being. Unfortunately, your dog or cat may also suffer from excess weight, and the consequences of their obesity can be just as serious as your own.
This article will provide an overview of the signs and dangers of canine and feline obesity so that you can prevent and treat them as soon as possible. To learn more about pet obesity in general, keep reading!
How do obese pets differ from those of normal weight?
Overweight pets have higher levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, a higher prevalence of fatty liver disease, and are more likely to have diabetes mellitus. In dogs, there is also an increased risk for osteoarthritis as well as behavioral changes (such as increased aggression) that may be due to cognitive impairment.
When pets become obese they can also develop high blood pressure and breathing problems associated with obesity. Additionally, many obese animals suffer from skin conditions such as hot spots or even hair loss. This can lead to further discomfort for your pet and affect their quality of life.
As pet owners, it’s important to monitor your pet’s weight and ensure you are feeding them appropriate amounts based on their activity level. If you suspect your pet is overweight talk with your veterinarian about how best to manage their weight loss program.
What are the health problems of obesity in pets?
We all know that people who are obese face a multitude of health issues. Heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, and other serious conditions are common among those who are overweight.
It is not surprising that obesity carries with it such heavy risks to human health, but what many people don’t know is that a dog or cat’s quality of life and longevity can be greatly affected by excess weight. In fact, studies have shown that pets are more likely than humans to develop certain types of cancers when they are obese.
In addition, dogs and cats with too much body fat often suffer from arthritis due to bone and joint problems caused by carrying around extra pounds. The good news is that these health problems can be prevented if you keep your pet at an ideal weight throughout his or her lifetime.
Is obesity contagious?
Yes. The health consequences for pets are similar to those for humans: heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and other disorders associated with extra weight. In fact, studies have found that dogs who are overweight suffer from a range of illnesses—including high blood pressure, respiratory problems, and even some forms of cancer—at rates as much as 29 percent higher than their healthier peers.
And as cats get older and begin to put on pounds, they’re more prone to develop life-threatening conditions like pancreatitis and diabetes. They also face an increased risk of osteoarthritis and certain cancers. Unfortunately, these negative effects are just part of what it means to be obese—but there is hope for your pet yet!
How do you know if your pet is obese?
Look at your pet from above. Your cat or dog should have a visible waistline, just like people do. If you can’t see their waistline when they are standing, then they may be overweight. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on your pet’s weight as you would for yourself or other humans in your family.
Overweight pets suffer from many of the same health problems that overweight humans do: diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease are all common ailments among obese pets. Fortunately, there is plenty you can do to help your pet lose weight and stay healthy.
The first step is to make sure your pet isn’t simply carrying extra weight because he has been spayed or neutered. Dogs and cats often gain several pounds after these procedures, but once they go through a full heat cycle (in dogs) or season (in cats), they will shed most of those extra pounds naturally.
Are dogs more prone to obesity than cats?
When it comes to pet obesity, which species is more at risk? It’s hard to say. According to a 2017 survey conducted by researchers at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota, and Banfield Pet Hospital, 62 percent of dogs are obese and 56 percent are overweight.
In contrast, 61 percent of cats are overweight but only 31 percent are obese. The numbers aren’t so different when you look at them another way: About one-third of both dog and cat owners believe their pets are overweight or obese. For example, 20 percent of cat owners think their pets are too heavy while 35 percent believe they could stand to lose a few pounds.
How many pounds is too much for a dog?
As people, it’s different for every animal. What is obese for a toy poodle may be quite normal for a Saint Bernard. The key is to monitor your pet’s weight and adjust his or her diet as needed.
If you think your pet may be overweight, ask your veterinarian what you should feed him or her and how often to weigh him or her next time he or she goes in for a checkup. As with humans, obesity in pets can lead to diabetes, joint problems, and other health issues. Your vet can help you figure out if your dog needs to lose weight.
What factors contribute to pet obesity?
There are two main causes of pet obesity: poor nutrition and lack of exercise. These days, most people feed their pets commercial food instead of preparing home-cooked meals. This is fine for humans, but it isn’t good for pets whose digestive systems have evolved to digest raw meat and bones, not processed grain and chemicals.
And feeding only once or twice a day—not four or five times as you would your dog or cat—can also contribute to weight gain. A lack of exercise is another big factor. Cats especially tend to be sedentary creatures, spending hours each day sleeping or lounging around indoors.
Dogs love nothing more than a walk in the park (or even just running around at home), but if they’re left alone all day with no one to play with them, they can easily become overweight.
How do you know when your pet needs medical care because it’s obese?
Some owners may not realize that their pet is obese, but if you see and feel large fat deposits or rolls of tissue around your pet’s abdomen, hips, flanks, or chest, you should talk to your veterinarian about scheduling a checkup.
Remember: If your pet is overweight now, chances are good it’s been that way for quite some time; pets don’t usually add pounds overnight. So even if you haven’t noticed any problems yet, it doesn’t mean there aren’t any lurking under all that excess weight.
The sooner you address an obesity problem, the better your pet’s long-term prognosis will be. Check out here on how to determine if your cat is sick.
Treatment options include weight loss surgery, for pets who are overweight.
Obese pets are just as much at risk for medical complications like diabetes and joint pain as humans are. Many pet owners simply aren’t aware that their furry friends are carrying around too many extra pounds, but it’s a growing problem.
If your dog or cat is too heavy, ask your vet about treatment options for weight loss—many vets offer low-cost pet weight loss surgery these days. It might be worth a conversation with your vet to see if there’s an easy way to help Fluffy slim down.