“Parker” was brought in for his annual vaccinations, clinical examination, and a weight-check.
He was a very bouncy three-year-old, neutered Labrador. However, it was noted that in the last year since his last check-up, he had gained over three Kilogrammes! Parker was certainly overweight, and he had been noted to be panting more on his walks, and he was not as fit and agile as he used to be.
Just as obesity is a known problem in human health, obesity in our pets is becoming an increasingly worrying and serious health issue. This has been particularly noted recently after the past eighteen months, with the Covid restrictions upon us. We are now sadly seeing more and more overweight pets coming into the practice.
Extra weight places an extra burden on an overweight pet’s organ systems, as well as their joints and ligaments. Furthermore, Joint problems can then in turn lead to a more inactive lifestyle, which then in turn only perpetuates the on-going obesity problem.
Sometimes we give our pets "treats" just because we love them. We may even give them some of our own food, or we make sure that our dog never has an empty food bowl. However, our own "human" food is often far too high in fat and sugars for your pet to metabolise properly, and it may cause your pet major health problems, or to become a more fussy and finicky eater who will refuse to eat its healthier, advised pet food. Your pet does not need an unlimited amount of food or continual treats. If he is regularly fed extra daily calories in this way, then his general health will ultimately suffer because of this.
There are several known health risks for the overweight pet: Diabetes; Pancreatitis; Skeletal stress, damage to joints, bones, and ligaments; Respiratory problems; heart disease; Decreased stamina and exercise intolerance; Liver disease; Digestive disorders; Decreased immune function; Skin and hair coat problems; Increased risk of cancer; Urinary tract infections; and sadly, a decreased quality and length of life.
To try to prevent obesity in your dog. Choose the correct type of food for your individual pet's breed, age, and stage. Then don’t just guess, please make sure you feed the correct amounts by measuring and weighing the advised amount of food for your pet’s feeds each day. Be careful how you do this, as simply cutting back on the amount of food you feed your pet may decrease the daily number of essential vitamins and minerals they receive. Well researched, lower calorie diets, diets specific for neutered pets, and prescription specific weight loss diets can ensure an adequate intake of essential nutrients while eliminating feeding any excess calories. Your Vet and Vet Nurses can guide you and help you choose the right food which is correctly tailored for your pet.
Regularly monitor your pet’s weight. Even a small change in your pet’s weight can have consequences to his mobility and his general health. Regulate your young pet's weight and stop the problem early on before it starts. Feed your puppy a healthy food at appropriate amounts for his breed and age, and start off well, by not giving puppies extra pet treats or human food. Be firm, your young pet will soon understand that he does not get unlimited treats. For training purposes, you can reward him instead with a small amount of his advised, set, daily measured amount of food. This way you will not be adding on yet more additional calories to his daily advised intake.
Make sure that there are no underlying medical problems or diseases. Just as in humans, pet obesity is sometimes a clinical symptom of a chronic, underlying medical problem, and this may not be successfully addressed until any underlying, concurrent medical issues are dealt with. Make sure that your pet has a check-up before any diet is started, to ensure that no underlying health problems are missed, for example mobility problems, heart disease or hypothyroidism.
Encourage daily exercise. Take your dog for regular daily walks appropriate for his age and stage. If his metabolism is increased with exercise, he will be more likely to lose some of his excess weight.
If you think your pet is now overweight, then do make an appointment at your Vets clinic. After a clinical examination, your Vet will determine if there are any concerns about any other possible medical problems contributing to your pet's obesity and will then be able to give you advice on how your pet should lose weight safely. Vet Nurses at your Vet practice may now run weight clinics again, which can greatly assist and help you with your pet's weight loss regime and give you the help and professional advice you need. They can give you advice on body condition scoring, target weights, an appropriate, correctly tailored diet for your individual pet and advised mounts of this, and an advised safe exercise program.
“Parker” has already lost some of his excess weight, and he is much more agile, and looking so much better for it.
Contact your Vet to arrange an appointment for a check-up and accurate weight check, and let's now aim to get our pets slimmer and healthier!