Authored by: Dr. Lindsey, DVM
According to an article in USA Today, the majority of pets in America are obese, 59.5% of cats and 55.8% of dogs. Unfortunately, those numbers seem to be continuing to trend upwards. Obesity is the accumulation of excess body fat. There can be many causes of obesity in our pets such as hormonal imbalances, genetics, or poor lifestyle.
Not only can obesity cause a shortened lifespan for our pets, but it can also make an animal more likely to develop illnesses. Obesity can cause increased risk of poor health for your pup. With extra weight, it can be more difficult for your pup to be active and mobile, adding to the issue.
Talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s obesity. Your veterinarian may want to run some bloodwork to check for underlying diseases that can cause or be the result of obesity. Once any of those problems are addressed, your veterinarian may want to put the pet on a special diet. Pets need to get enough nutrients and calories for their breed and level of activity. It’s not just about feeding them less of their food. It’s also not just the number on the scale that we look at. Veterinarians want to take into consideration a pet’s body condition score too. I will link a picture of a body condition score chart below for cats and dogs. Additionally, it’s important to have your pet weighed regularly when working on their weight loss.
One of the big contributing factors of obesity is the amount of treats we give our pets. If your pet needs to get on a weight loss plan, your veterinarian will talk to you about “healthier” treat options that you can give your pet.
You are not alone if you have an obese pet. It is something that veterinarians frequently talk to pet owners about. Don’t be embarrassed to ask your veterinarian what you can do to help your pet lose weight. It’s extremely important for your pet’s quality of life!
Dr. Lindsey graduated from Colorado State University in 2009 and works in general practice, shelter medicine, and more recently as a civilian contractor veterinarian for the Army. She is also certified in acupuncture and resides in Palm Springs, CA.