Obesity is a growing worry in pets. Simply put, it is an accumulation of excess body fats. In both dogs and cats, an excessive amount of body weight or body fat is the same thing. Consequently, an overweight dog or cat may likewise be obese. Depending on the breed of the pet, a different optimal weight may apply. When a dog or cat weighs 20% more than its optimal weight, it is deemed obese. The quality of life with respect to age and a body condition score measuring the muscle and fat in pets can both indicate obesity.
While genetics also play a role, limited walks, improper nutrition and exercise or the simple lack of better awareness puts pets at risk of obesity. A trip down this road is bad news also because of the multiple health risks that tag along. Osteoarthritis, heart and respiratory disease, diabetes, weakened joints, decreased immunity and stamina, reduced length and quality of life are some health risks associated with obesity in pets.
Thus, it is best to steer clear of obesity and the numerous problems it invites. Read on to know more about the early signs of obesity and tips to overcome it.
Symptoms of Obesity
As loving pet parents, keeping our furry friends healthy and fluffy is the goal. But missing out on daily calorie needs that fit their breed and lifestyle can have negative consequences. Before mild symptoms turn into something major, here are some signs of obesity you should look out for:
- Heart disease
- Increased blood pressure
- Excessive panting
- Unwillingness to play
- Joint pain
- Skin folds leading to skin infections
- Abdomen sagging
If you’re unable to understand the cause of symptoms, you should consider getting pathology tests done. A blood test can help get to the root cause of obesity. You can avail our pathology test services for pets to anticipate health issues in your pets and undertake the required treatment.
Tips to Overcome Obesity in Pets
As they say, prevention is better than cure. It is absolutely critical to take the steps in maintaining your pets’ health and fitness. Following is a list of effective tips to keep obesity in your little bae at bay:
The Right Nutrition and Diet- Diet, nutrition and lack of exercise are the root causes of obesity. Different breeds have different optimal weight ranges at different ages. Thus, knowing their ideal weight is the first step in treating obesity. Consequently, a professional can help by assessing your pets’ condition and whip up a customised diet plan best suitable to their requirements.
Keeping ‘em Up and About – Exercise is the second most important step in tackling obesity. Incorporate healthy play times and activities to burn off extra calories. You can opt for professional dog walking services to save up on your time! A stimulating indoor environment allowing them to move freely, indoor games like tug-of-war or hide and seek, swimming or gym sessions are all activities to get moving and lose the extra kilos. Not to mention, the consequent flexibility and strong joints are a sweet bonus!
Begging is Not Equal to Hungry – Begging is more of a ruse to gain your attention, than a cry out of hunger. This behaviour persists when it is rewarded and encouraged. To avoid overfeeding, pay attention to when the last meal was, and the quantity of food served and follow your gut. Choose a high-protein meal with a combination of fibres if you are prone to giving in to those puppy dog eyes. This will help control your dog’s hunger and limit their voluntary food consumption.
Measure and Monitor Changes – Once your vet has curated a weight-management plan for your pet, you will have a clear understanding of the required food intake during each meal. Be cautious; use a suitable measurement device instead of free-feeding or eyeballing how much you scoop out to be sure you are controlling portion control. Regular weight checks make it simpler to manage your pet’s weight. Monthly weigh-ins will allow you to assess whether your pet’s weight loss plan is effective for them.
Slow and Steady – One change at a time. The most important thing is to avoid making any abrupt changes to your pooch’s lifestyle. They may suffer negative consequences because it could place them in stressful situations that worsen their health issues. Hence, introduce each change gradually instead of overwhelming them all at once.
Limit Treats and Food Scraps- Treats and food scraps are off the table, literally! If you give your pet treats as part of training, choose low-calorie, low-fat snacks, and give them in moderation. In fact, keep in mind that clickers are a terrific reinforcement tool and contain no calories. Since dogs are much smaller than humans, a few more pounds can really make a difference… including those huge breeds! Focus on eating well and refrain from treating them more.
Regular Vet Visits- Visit and update your vet regularly to keep them in the loop with your pet’s progress. Regular visits to the vet can aid in the early discovery of any health issues and their early treatment. Giving your pets dietary supplements like immune system boosters and calcium syrups at the appropriate age will help reduce the likelihood of contracting diseases.
Consistency is Key – Studies show that half the dogs regained weight after successfully losing some kilos. The good news is, the researchers discovered how reaching the target weight is not the final goal. The idea is to continue putting in the same effort to prevent rebound weight gain. For your pet to have a long and healthy life, sticking to the regime is necessary.
Pro tip: replace treats with kale stems and baby carrots … don’t tell your pet we said so! If you are excited about what you give them, they will reciprocate with the same excitement. It is the effort that counts. Being able to acknowledge and treat problems while keeping their health in check will allow you to enjoy each other longer. With time, effort and love, your little friend will surely be healthier and happier than ever!