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Just like in people, pet obesity in our canine and feline friends has become a significant health risk and detriment to long-term survival.
Reports often state that at least 40 to 50 percent of our animal companions fall into the overweight category with many of these considered grossly obese. As in people, obesity is associated with a decreased life span. In a 14-year study done by Purina, with all other factors being kept equal between littermates, obesity led to a reduction in life span by 15 percent, or on average 1.8 years. Obesity leads to a compromise in normal metabolic and homeostatic mechanisms that can result in an increased risk for heart disease, lung and breathing issues, diabetes mellitus, some cancers, and significant joint disease.
Prevention is key. If your pet can maintain a normal and healthy body weight, good health and quality of life can be better maintained. Nutrition is the primary focus. Proper diet choice for the life stage and environment, feeding the proper amount, which is not always what the guidelines suggest, and monitoring the number of treats or ‘extras’ that your pet is receiving are all important factors.
As with diet, exercise is the other key to maintaining a healthy body weight. Swimming, playing fetch or allowing your canine friend to play with others, and simply walking or jogging can help keep your pet active and lean. Cats, especially our indoor feline friends cannot be forgotten. Daily exercise for them is crucial. This can take form in a multitude of ways, from playtime using a laser pointer, feeding meals out of a dispensing toy, or even taking your cat for a walk on a leash.
Pet obesity is a huge risk factor for our companion animals. For every pound your pet is overweight this can be equivalent to 15 to 20 pounds of extra weight in a person. At an ideal body weight, your pet should have an obvious waistline when viewed from above and the ribs should feel like a thin t-shirt covers them.
If your pet is overweight or you have concerns as your pet is aging, call or visit us here at Scottsdale Veterinary Hospital to discuss nutrition and weight loss options. Our staff are well trained in nutrition and can answer your questions and provide valuable advice while we determine a healthy weight for your pet and how best to achieve that.