The obesity epidemic, so common in humans, also plagues our pets. By definition, obesity is a nutritional disease defined by an excess amount of body fat. It develops over time due primarily to over-eating and under-exercising. Diseases, such as hypothyroidism and Cushing’s Disease, may act as secondary (or complementary) causes.
As a condition, obesity is not an emergency. It is, however, detrimental to anyone’s overall health. While much of this article may seem like common sense, we see an astonishing number of overweight patients. Therefore, as a veterinarian, I encourage all pet owners to learn how to prevent your dog or cat from becoming obese.
We are all guilty of spoiling our pets in one way or another. However, over-feeding them should not be considered a form of indulgence or kindness (even though they really want a bite). Much like humans, dogs and cats gain weight slowly but surely due to over-eating and under-exercising. And, as they do, you will notice these signs:
- Loss of a waist
- Accumulation of fat
- Lack of mobility
Health Risks Associated with Obesity
An unhealthy weight equals an unhealthy life. Long-term health conditions, which are often irreversible, may arise because of it. These include:
Prevention and Treatment
Prevention and early detection of obesity is key to getting it under control. It is preventable by:
- Maintaining portion control
- Routine exercise
- Regular health screenings
While, as previously stated, obesity is not an emergency, it should be addressed to improve general health. Therefore, if you feel like your pet has become overweight, discuss a weight loss plan with your family veterinarian. He or she may suggest:
- Portion control or a prescription diet
- Healthier treat options
- Decreased amount or no treats
- Increased exercise
- Treatment of underlying disease
Your primary veterinarian can help get your dog or cat back to a healthy weight. However, if your pet’s weight is a result of another disease or contributes to diabetes, heart disease, joint issues, etc., ask your vet for a referral to one of our specialists. Or call us yourself. 704-457-2300.