Just as it is with our ever-expanding waistlines, extra pounds on a pet don’t appear overnight. Successive weeks or months of a few extra treats a day, or a little less exercise, create the perfect storm for weight gain. The fact is, pet obesity is on the rise. Knowing what’s at stake for an overweight pet can help turn the tide and with a proactive, consistent approach, pet owners can have a direct impact on a pet’s overall health and longevity.
Tipping the Scale
There is extensive information available regarding every pet’s optimal weight. We can help you determine exactly how much your pet should weigh, depending on their breed(s) in order to determine the right steps toward achieving their target weight goal.
A few extra pounds on a person might not signal panic, but just 4 pounds on a small dog is equivalent to 32-38 pounds on a human! Likewise, 7 additional pounds on a golden retriever equals 16-18 pounds on a person.
Most pet owners don’t realize their pets have gained weight since their best buddy’s last veterinary visit. This is just one more reason to keep annual exams a priority (or every 6 months for senior pets). The ability to compare scale readings allows for a pivot towards positive change. If a pet’s weight goes unchecked or untreated, many health conditions can develop that impact quality of life.
The Risks Are Real
An overweight pet may face certain challenges to their health or a shorter life expectancy. By preventing any extra weight gain, you can reduce the risks associated with heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, and cancer.
Checks and Balances
The basics behind weight gain include a simple equation: Too many calories going in, and not enough are getting burned up with exercise. It is crucial to measure out your pet’s food portions, keep meal times regular and consistent, and eliminate treats and table scraps.
Helping an Overweight Pet
Even pets who really tip the scales can come back to a healthy weight, but it requires time and patience. Starving a pet has serious consequences, and a weight loss program should only be done under the observation and direction of an expert veterinarian.
There are certain strategies to help an overweight pet, including:
- Adding fiber (such as green beans, apples, or unsweetened pumpkin puree) to their diet to make them feel full at meal times
- Increasing walking or running times
- Offering praise and attention instead of food rewards
- Encouraging more water drinking
It can be very hard to resist the begging of a pet, especially if it worked so well for them in the past! Unfortunately, this behavior is at the center of the weight gain issue and should be redirected. When they want a snack or treat, introduce them to a new game, toy, or activity. Try to distract them with grooming, outside time, or simple snuggling.
We Are Here For You
The health of your pet is a priority. If you have additional questions or concerns about their overall wellness, behavior, or nutrition, please give us a call at (865) 609-0311. Our staff is always happy to help at Volunteer Veterinary Hospital.