My Pet is Fat and Needs to Lose Some Weight
Unfortunately, obesity has become an epidemic among our pets and like humans, it is damaging their health in many different ways. Across the United States, there are more than 50% of cats and dogs that are considered obese or overweight. If your pet has been weighed lately and your veterinarian has told you that your pet is obese or overweight, your pet is at significant risk for developing:
- Decreased life expectancy
- Many forms of cancer
- Kidney disease
- High Blood Pressure
- Heart and Reparatory Disease
All of those diseases and decreased life expectancies can be very scary. Even if your dog is only a few pounds overweight, the health concerns are not something to shake off. A few extra pounds on your dog or cat is equivalent to people being dozens of pounds overweight. With the extra weight, that means that there is added stress on bones and joints, your pet’s heart and lungs are working overtime and there is increased inflammation throughout the body. You should always pay attention to your pet’s Body Condition Score (BCS) along with your pet’s weight. The BCS is an important indicator of their health and the score is graded on a scale of 1-5 or 1-9. The ideal body condition for your pet is where you should be able to easily feel their ribs and their ribs should have minimal fat covering. It should also be easy to identify the waist when you view your pet from above and should an abdominal tuck when you view your pet from the side. If your pet becomes overweight, you will need to safely change your pet’s lifestyle to permanently lose the weight and achieve a leave body condition. Helping your pet lose weight comes down to a lifestyle change for your pet, just like humans, losing weight just does not happen overnight. A safe weight loss goal for your pet is around 0.5-1% body weight per week. Your veterinarian might recommend that a complete blood panel is done on your pet before starting a diet to rule out any metabolic reasons for the weight gain, as a low thyroid. If your pet is diagnosed with liver or kidney disease, you should always consult with your vet for specific nutrition information and specific diet recommendations.
It is not recommended to free-feed your pet. You can feed your pet several meals throughout the day, but you will need to know the exact amount that your pet is eating every day. If you’re keeping the bowl full or using an automatic feeder, this will not help your pet lose weight.