Just as with humans, the number of pets showing signs of obesity is increasing. Canine and Feline Obesity can be defined as an excess of body fat that is enough to impair health, welfare and quality of life.
The vast majority of pet obesity is caused by either eating too much, eating the wrong sort of food and/or not exercising enough. A smaller number of cases can be disease related. Often the weight builds up slowly and goes unnoticed. Regular weighing and recording is the only way to get an accurate overview of whether a pet is creeping up from their ideal weight.
Several factors make obesity more likely in pets:
Breed – certain breeds have a higher risk
Age – the risk increases with age
Neuter status– neutered pets are more at risk
Sex– apart from older pets, obesity is reported to be more common in females
As a responsible pet owner, it is important to be concerned about your pet’s weight as obesity can affect the well-being of your much-loved family friend. Obesity can lead to diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease, high blood pressure and cancer. It can also reduce mobility and aggravate pre-existing mobility conditions such as arthritis.
To determine whether a dog or cat is overweight a technique called body condition scoring is used. If your pet is the correct weight you should:
be able to see and feel the outline of your pet’s ribs without excess fat covering.
be able to see and feel your pet’s waist and it should be clearly visible when viewed from above.
see the pet’s belly is tucked up when viewed from the side.
It is very hard to refuse your pet a titbit from time to time and most owners do not realise the harm that prolonged feeding of titbits is doing over time. There is also a lack of education about which foods are harmful and also how much to feed each day. For example, a 30g piece of ham is a staggering 123% over an average cats’ daily recommended energy intake and a rawhide bone chew is 67% over a 20Kg dogs’ daily recommended energy intake.
What can I do?
Obesity can be managed by exercise and diet. At Willows Vet Group, we have always been very proactive in promoting weight management for your pets. As a result, in 2015 one of our practices was selected as one of only a handful of vets in the UK for accreditation to a new initiative called the ‘Accredited Weight Management Centre’.
If you believe that your pet is overweight – getting in touch with your vet is the first step. Your vet then may advise you at your own practice or refer you to our specialised pet Weight Centre based in Northwich.
Initial assessment consultation which will take a minimum of 30 minutes. During this appointment, your pet will be weighed, photographed and measurements taken. This then helps our staff to assign a body condition score on a scale of 1-9. A bespoke plan will then be established.
Fortnightly assessments, for weight and measurements
Continued support and education including strategies for diet and exercise
Pet obesity can be managed with exercise and diet, and with the right support and education, you can give your pet a new lease of life!