Is My Pet Fat?
We are seeing more and more of our patients becoming overweight or obese. You will notice on the Pet Health Check information sheet we give you when you pet is vaccinated there is a ‘Body Score’. As a rough guide 4 out of 5 is more than 10% overweight and 5 out of 5 is more than 20% overweight. If your pet is either 4 or 5 it is time to act. If you are unsure, let us know and we can teach you how to body score.
Does it Really Matter?
- The short answer is YES. Dogs and cats that are overweight are much more prone to:
- ♦ Joint or locomotion problems including arthritis, spinal disc problems and ruptured ligaments.
- ♦ Breathing difficulties, particularly with exercise.
- ♦ Heart disease.
- ♦ Liver disease.
- ♦ Sugar Diabetes (Diabetes Mellitus).
- ♦ Heat intolerance.
- ♦ Lower resistance to infection, especially viruses.
- ♦ Greater surgical and anaesthetic risk.
- ♦ Mental irritability, which is related to discomfort.
- ♦ Increased constipation & flatulence.
- ♦ Non allergic skin disease.
- ♦ Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease
All other things being equal, a fit lean pet is likely to live a couple of years longer that an obese one.
What causes Weight Gain?
Too Much Food & Too Little Exercise
In some animals, other factors such as breed, temperament, hormone imbalance and disease may contribute to obesity. Some tests may need to be done if we are suspicious of any underlying disease. A rough rule of thumb is that 80% of excess weight is caused by diet and 20% is caused by lack of exercise.
Certain dog breeds are more likely to put on weight than others. Dogs that are genetically prone to gain weight easily include: Labrador Retrievers, Cairn Terriers, Cocker Spaniels, Cavalier King Charles spaniels, long-haired Dachshunds, Shetland Sheepdogs, Basset Hounds and Beagles
How To Lose Weight
Ring and speak to our Slimmer’s Club Coordinator, and make a time that she can help you get started.
Step 1. Weigh Your Pet
This bit is easy. Our electronic scales make it easy to weigh your dog. You are welcome to come in and use the scales any time we are open for any follow up weighing.
Step 2. Set a Target Weight
We have a list of normal weights for most breeds and we will base a target weight based on your pets individual conformation.
Step 3. Work Out What to Feed
Our Slimmer’s Club Coordinator will help you with this bit. It may be enough just to feed less of the normal diet. Often a special diet needs to be formulated, or a commercial diet food used. These diet foods are available from our hospital. Keep the pet out of the room when food is being prepared or eaten. This helps eliminate begging and feeding of snacks. Do not feed your pet with other pets. Only feed at specific mealtimes.
Feed your pet only from a bowl. Break the hand to mouth cycle.
Step 4. Increase Exercise
This will increase the calories burnt and can increase the basal metabolic rate. This should be given according to your veterinarians instructions. In many pets, especially cats, it is not possible to change the amount of exercise your pet receives. Ask us for some tips if you are stuck for ideas.
Step 5. Monitor Weight Reduction
Check your pet’s weight regularly (each week) and use our chart to record your pets weight loss. This is very important. You need to see your success.