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Obesity in Pets: Tam and Tess

Tam and Tess had both gained significant weight over the past year.

“Tam” and “Tess” were the best of pals, a beautiful Rag-Doll cat, and a lovely friendly Black Labrador. They were both four years old, and both young and playful. However, they loved their food, and it was noticed at their checks-ups for their annual Booster vaccines, that they had both gained significant weight over the past year. 

Unfortunately, overweight pets are a real growing concern for vets across the UK. Around 40 per cent of dogs and cats are estimated to be overweight or obese, with the overconsumption of calories being the biggest cause. Pet obesity is on the rise generally and has been noted as a big pet health problem during the Covid-19 pandemic. We have seen an increase in pet obesity particularly over the last two years, and worryingly increasingly so in younger animals.  

Obesity is fast becoming one of the most serious health problems affecting our pets, with currently one in three cats and one in four dogs considered to be overweight. If not curbed this problem can only get worse.  

Sadly, being overweight is fast becoming almost the ‘norm’ for our pet dogs and cats. So much so, that when we see a healthy, lean dog or cat, the owner’s reaction often now is to think that he/she is “too thin”.  

Obesity is not incurable, and our pets don’t want to be overweight, it is the owner's responsibility to try to avoid or correct an obesity problem. Obesity sadly brings with it some increased risks of ill health and a poor quality of life for our overweight, companion animals. It is fast becoming one of the most serious health problems affecting our pets. 

Obesity in dogs can result in a whole range of health problems including Joint disease, Diabetes, Heart disease, Exercise intolerance, Higher general anaesthetic risk and Cancer. And alarmingly, obesity can shorten a dog’s lifespan by as much as two years.  

Obesity in cats is extremely detrimental to health and can also result in serious health conditions, including Diabetes, Lower Urinary Tract Disease (cystitis), Joint Disease, Fatty Liver Disease (Hepatic Lipidosis), Exercise intolerance, Heart and Respiratory disease and an Increased anaesthetic risk. Cats are obligate carnivores, in the wild, they would have caught their own prey, and rarely would you have seen an overweight feline. Now we provide them with such pampered lives that a fit, lean, toned cat is sadly fast becoming the minority.  

So, if you want to have your feline or canine best friend around for as long as possible, now is the time to do something positive about this, and work at getting them back into shape.  

Your Vet practice can advise and support owners on their journey towards achieving a slimmer and healthier pet. Vet Nurses generally run regular Weight clinics to assist owners on their journey towards achieving a slimmer and healthier pet, providing advice on their pet’s diet, and working out healthy, weight loss plans. The aim is to help pet owners, as we all appreciate dieting is never an easy task. 

Your pet’s diet and daily energy requirements can be carefully worked out, dependent on their age, stage, and lifestyle. An initial dietary weight loss plan for your individual pet can then be set up and worked on. To make life simpler there are now also excellent “Weight Loss,” complete diets available. These diets are professionally researched, satisfying, complete nutrition, which are carefully formulated to provide all the necessary daily nutrients required, but with a lower calorie content. You can get advice on how much to feed of these diets, and on what foods to stop and avoid! Once a diet is advised on for your pet, then set amounts will be given to feed in measured grams per day, to try to work towards achieving an ideal "target weight" for your pet. Do carefully weigh your pet's food allocation out each day, on an accurate electronic gram measure kitchen scale, and, if possible, weigh your pet regularly and keep a record of this weight. After a month, their daily food amounts will be advised on and adjusted if required, depending on that recorded weight. Weight loss in cats can and should be a slow process, and often owners will become disillusioned when despite all their efforts, their cat doesn’t appear to be showing signs of becoming slimmer. However, losing 0.5kg a month may not seem like much to an owner, but to an obese, inactive cat this is progress. 

If you are strict, and you do comply with the advised feeding guidelines given, then gradually you should begin to see some positive results in your trimmer pet, which in turn will be a happier, healthier pet looking forward. We can all make a big difference to our beloved pets if their weight is carefully and regularly monitored, and their daily diet controlled correctly lifelong. 

“Tam” and “Tess” did very well. They had both lost some of their excess weight at their next check- ups, and they looked fitter and healthier for it! 

If you need good, professional guidance on weight loss for your pet, do get in touch with your Vet practice for an appropriate appointment for an initial check-up. 

Alison Laurie-Chalmers,
Senior Consultant,
Crown Vets

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