A fluffy pet is super cute, but what about a fat one? Despite the adorable images of roly poly cats and dogs, there really is nothing cute about an overweight pet.

Pet obesity is a huge factor in the health and quality of life of our animal friends. At Volunteer Veterinary Hospital, helping your pet maintain a healthy weight is a top goal.

Not so Cute

Although the image of cat not being able to clean their own backside may be entertaining, the truth of the matter is that pet obesity is a real problem.

Overweight or obese pets are at high risk for many health conditions, not to mention overall shortened life spans. Extra weight increases the risk of the following:

These conditions are no laughing matter. Their management often requires intense emotional and financial involvement, and they certainly affect overall quality of life.

How Much is too Much?

Most pets you meet are probably overweight, making it hard to know when your furry friend is in need of some help. That’s why we make it a point to assess weight status at your pet’s wellness visits, but if you suspect your four-legged housemate is in need of help sooner, call us today to schedule a weight and nutritional assessment.

We often provide pets with a body condition score to get a good feel for where we’re starting and provide an objective assessment of obesity. You can also check your pet’s body condition score at home to help determine if you’re in need of an intervention.

It’s helpful for us to know that you’re open to weight discussions, as well. This is often a triggering subject for people, and we appreciate when our clients show an interest in an honest assessment.

Preventing Pet Obesity

So what can you do to prevent pet obesity? Consider these tips:

Take nutrition seriously. You are what you eat, even if you are a dog. Paying close attention to your pet’s food and nutritional needs are an important part of the formula. We’re happy to help you determine your pet’s caloric requirements and develop a nutrition plan with you.

Encourage activity. Daily exercise (30 minutes per day for dogs and 3 five-minute spurts for cats) is important. The type of exercise depends on the individual pet, but may include walking, running, chasing a toy or laser pointer, playing fetch, or swimming. There are also some pretty cool new activity monitors that exist (akin to a pet FitBit) to help you monitor how much exercise your pet is getting.

Maintain a wellness routine. Bringing your pet in for routine wellness visits is very important. During these visits, we can keep a close eye on weight gain and discuss nutrition and activity recommendations. We can also be sure to diagnose and treat conditions that may adversely affect your pet’s weight, such as hypothyroidism or osteoarthritis.

As your pet’s veterinarian, we think body weight management is a very important factor in helping your pet live a longer, healthier life. It’s an essential part of pet wellness care, and we hope that you’ll let us be your partner in addressing this issue for you and your companion.