According to the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association 35% of pets were considered overweight in 2005.  This is definitely a cause for concern.  Just as in humans, that excess weight can be very dangerous for our furry companions and can lead to a shortened life expectancy.  This is where you come in.  Your pets need your help to prevent obesity and to help those who are already tipping the scales.

How do our pets become overweight in the first place?  This can be explained by a simple math equation.

When calorie intake is more than calories burned we end up with excess stored fat.

Calorie intake >calories expended = excess stored fat.

However, the true causes are a little more complicated.  Where do the the calories come from?  How are they burnt off and how quickly?

Causes of obesity can include the following:

  1. Excess intake of calories:
  1. High Calories foods
  2. Excessive Treats (pet and human foods)
  3. Feeding an excess of human foods

Lack of exercise.  This works in two ways.  When a pet does not receive enough exercise he is not burning enough calories andwhen a pet is not exercised or stimulated he may eat from boredom.   Some medical conditions such as Hypo-thyroidism, Diabetes, Cushings and others can lead to obesity.  Although spaying and neutering your pet do not cause obesity they do result in a lower metabolic rate, meaning that you need to be extra cognizant of the calories your pet is consuming and expending after she/he is spayed/neutered.   Some breeds are more prone to becoming overweight and therefore it is important to know how your pet’s breed can play a role and work hard to prevent those conditions which can be prevented.   Age – As your pets age their metabolism slows down, making them more prone to weight gain.  Stress and boredom can result in overeating and weight gain.

If your pet is overweight, the health risks are many and can include the following as well as reduced life expectancy:

  1. Lowered resistance to infection.
  2. Increased musculoskeletal diseases, such as arthritis, spinal disc prolapse, torn cruciate and other locomoter difficulties.
  3. Decreased endurance due to fatigue and increased blood pressure
  4. Heart disease
  5. Diabetes
  6. Gastrointestinal disorders
  7. Decreased liver function
  8. Skin problems

The best thing that we can do for our pets is to prevent excess weight gain from the very beginning.  However, if your pet is already overweight don’t worry, you can still improve her health by reducing the weight and getting her more active.

Prevention and Treatment:

  1. Regular Play and Exercise
  2. Good quality food.  Avoid treats and human food.  If your pet is overweight now then a prescription food which is geared towards weight loss may be your best option.  These foods are still balanced to meet the nutrient requirements of your pet but have fewer calories to aid in weight loss.
  3. Measure your pets food with a measuring cup and do not overfeed.
  4. Toys used to hide food in can make eating more challenging, increasing the length of feeding time and decreasing boredom.

You can follow Daisy on her weight loss adventure on her blog!