Good Dog Blog

Weighty Issues for your Pet Dog or Cat

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Just as our pet dog or cat like to lounge in the sunshine, this is the time of year when we start to think of the warmth of spring.  And the shedding of heavy clothes in exchange for sleeker summer styles.  And we start to think of our physique, and any extra pounds we may have added over the long winter.

While animals do not suffer with the insecurities of body image, they do suffer many of the same health risks that we do with added weight.  These can be serious, life shortening diseases, and minimally they decrease the quality of our friends’ lives.  It is an ever more common problem for our furry friends.  A recent survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention found that 53% of dogs and 58% of cats were overweight or obese.  That means that over half of our animals are at risk for serious health problems!

A  pet is considered overweight when their weight is 15% or more above ideal body weight.  They are considered obese when their weight is 30% or more above their ideal.   We talk in percentages because a pound of extra weight means a great deal more to a feline or tiny Chihuahua than to a Great Dane.  Ideal body weight varies considerably, but a veterinarian can help you determine where your furry friend should be in the battle of the bulge, and how to get there.  Often, the numbers on the scale are not as important to study as is the lifestyle your feline or canine friend leads and the composition of their body.  Do they have a waist?  Can you feel their ribs? We can guide you through these things, as every pet’s needs are unique.

So what are these risks that make weight management so very important?

There are many reasons to maintain a healthy weight for your pet.  Excess weight puts much more stress on their joints, just as it can for us.  This can lead to debilitating arthritis, and even ligament injuries, some of which require surgical intervention to correct.  An overweight feline or canine is at a much greater risk of developing insulin resistance and type II diabetes. Just as with people, diabetes can lead to a host of other problems and greatly decrease both the quality and length of your furry friend’s life.  Obesity and a high fat diet can trigger a serious, painful condition called pancreatitis, which will likely require hospital care to help an animal recover, and is likely to recur if the diet continues to be too fatty.  Watch those table scraps!   Our overweight pets are also prone to high blood pressure, which can have negative effects on the kidneys and eyes.  And extra weight can definitely slow an animal down in their daily activities as well.  Respiratory distress and exercise intolerance can really limit what they are able to do.

Overweight and obese animals tend to have shorter life spans than their healthy weighted counterparts.  When we feed to many calories and provide too little exercise, we are short changing our best friends!  Talking to a veterinarian about appropriate weight and exercise for your furry friend is one of the most important things you can do to lengthen their life and improve the quality of their days!

Weighty Issues for your Pet Dog or Cat is part of the BAY CREEK BITES series brought to you by Dr. Kristen Arp of Bay Creek Mobile Veterinary Services, you can reach Dr. Arp at (678) 863-9408 and House call appointments are available!


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