Is your pet overweight or obese?
According to an article published in the 2014 January/February Issue of Best Health (Obesity and your pet) 60 % of pets are overweight or obese. (http://www.besthealthmag.ca/best-you/pet-health/is-your-pet-at-risk-for-obesity/ )
This increases the risk for Type 2 Diabetes, cancer, digestive issues, difficulty with mobility, heart disease and quite possible premature death.
Unless the extra weight is caused by an illness (we will list the most common illnesses below), the weight gain is preventable. It generally is caused by over- feeding and not enough exercise. Canada’s 2011 Pet Wellness Report concluded that only 18% of pet owners feed their pets the recommended amount. If this extra food is not burned off with exercise it leads to overweight and obese pets.
When cats and dogs are at a healthy weight they should have an hourglass figure when viewed from above. You should also be able to feel the ribs when you touch your pets’ sides. If you can’t detect the ribs it might be time to speak to your veterinarian.
If your pet starts to gain weight and you are feeding him/her properly, a visit to the vet might be in order to rule out any illnesses.
Let’s take a look at what could cause weight-gain in your pet: (http://www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/evr_multi_medical_causes_behind_weight_gain?page=2 )
is the most obvious cause for weight-gain. Quite often pet owners are unaware their pet is pregnant until there is a litter of kittens or puppies. Keep in mind that if your pet is not spayed all it takes is a few minutes unattended in the backyard to get pregnant.
is a common side effect of heart disease. The visible symptom is an enlarged belly.
Tumors or diseases of the internal organs can also be the cause of fluid retention.
In cats, feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is one of the main causes of abdominal fluid retention.
There are some prescription medications that can also lead to weight gain, especially if they are taken over a long period. If your pet is on any kind of medication and is also having a weight problem that you cannot control through simple food management and moderate exercise, you will need to consult with your veterinarian to see if the medication is related to the weight, and if a different medication or lower dose can prevent further weight gain.
Internal parasites, especially the type that lodge in the abdominal walls and intestines will often cause fluid to build up around the area of infestation, causing a potbellied appearance. This is often seen in young animals whose immune systems are not yet strong enough to resist the effects of parasitic infestation, and is more severe when there is a heavy load of internal parasites. Once parasites are diagnosed a course of parasiticides should take care of it.
The thyroid glands are responsible for the production of thyroid hormones, the chief instigator for how quickly the body uses energy. In some animals (and humans) a under-production of the hormone causes a sluggish metabolism and therefore weight gain. The body simply doesn’t use the energy provided by the food. It can be confounding to observe that even while your pet is eating very little, she is continuing to gain weight. Some of the other symptoms seen with this disorder are fatigue, coarse hair coat, slow heart rate, and itchy, dry skin. Your veterinarian can conduct some straightforward blood tests to determine if your pet has an underlying case of hypothyroidism. If the diagnosis is positive for hypothyroidism, your doctor can prescribe medication to treat it
is often seen in older animals, particularly older dogs, Cushing’s disease is a disorder that arises from long-term overproduction of glucocorticoid hormones, which are an important aspect of protein, carbohydrate, and metabolic regulation. This hormone is related to the adrenal glands (found near the kidneys) and pituitary glands, developing when something in one of these glands is abnormal.
The most common form of Cushing’s is pituitary Cushing’s. It is most often caused by a tumor in the gland.
Cushing ’s disease is commonly symptomized by muscle weakness and wasting, extreme thirst, increased appetite, urinary tract infections, rapid weight gain, and hair loss. One of the most apparent outward symptoms is a potbelly, which is due to the wasting of muscles in the abdomen and the shifting of fat into the abdominal area. If you suspect that your pet has Cushing’s disease, you will need to take your pet to a veterinarian for a full blood, urine, and chemistry profile.
some dogs eat their food rapidly..wolfing it down. It looks like they swallow the food without chewing and tasting it. As the dog eats he/she also swallows large amounts of air. The stomach is full of un-chewed food, large amounts of air causing the abdomen to bloat. The symptoms are discomfort/restlessness, rapid breathing, pain in the abdomen, drooling and collapse. This is life-threatening and needs immediate medical attention. Bloat is mostly seen in large dogs (Great Danes, German Shepherds and Standard Poodles)
If your pet is in the clear, your vet will set up a slow weight-reduction plan. Among the vet-approved weight loss tips: Measure your pet’s food to ensure proper portion control, and put your cat’s food into multiple bowls around your home so he has to hunt for it. Take your dog for a good walk several times a day.
As many of you know we own 2 dogs and are very careful what and how much we feed them. We never give them the full amount recommended on the food bag. They are both at a healthy weight and don’t have any health issues.
In our business we see a lot of pets who were loved just a little too much. Just because your pet sits in front of you and begs doesn’t mean he/she is hungry. We all know how difficult it is for us to lose weight and it is the same for our pets. Prevention is your best approach.
Below we have linked the Body Conditioning Scoring sheets for cats and dogs.