The Dreaded “O” Word – Do you have an overweight pet? by Dr. Bianca Lee-Partington BVSc
It’s truly something that nobody ever wants to hear – after all, weight is probably one of the most sensitive topics known to man, right?
Well, the truth of the matter is that we have come to ignore the topic of what is considered an ideal weight for our beloved furry companions, and sadly the ones most affected by that are them that we hold most dear. But this is not a doom and gloom kind of article – we as vets would love for our valued clients to know that we truly harbour no judgement against any of our slightly chubbier patients, as we would just like to see them as their healthiest and happiest selves, and of course we need the help of their loving and dedicated owners to achieve that.
Let’s first look at some facts about the risks of excess weight in our pets:
Due to the interrelated nature of obesity, it is actually the number one health problem faced by pets today, both locally and worldwide.
According to a study done by Hills, obesity/being overweight reduces the already-too-short life expectancy of our furry family members by up to 2.5 years.
As little as 20% extra body weight can increase the risk of serious conditions such as osteoarthritis, urinary tract problems (especially in cats), skin and heart diseases as well as breathing problems and certain types of cancer.
So, when the difficult conversation is over and you have come to accept that your pet is indeed overweight (and you understand the risks it places on them), where do we go from here?
As the age-old story goes, there are only ever two major role players in weight loss, and they most definitely apply to animals as much as they do to humans. Exercise and nutrition.
Thanks to Hills, there is a wonderful free program available that all our clients are able to be a part of, and that makes the “diet” part of the weight loss a much more achievable goal – the food, the daily feeding amount, the goal weight, the amount of time it should take to lose the weight – all calculated to suit your pet’s individual needs, as well as what works for you.
The exercise part? Well, that’s entirely up to the owner and can be as little
or as much (and as often or as seldom) as you and your pet are able to manage to fit into your routine. Because just as it is with humans, the diet makes up the bulk of the effect. Exercise does however still play a pivotal role, and we would be happy to help guide you
in this regard as well.
How do you get started?
Simply visit us, your vet, and let us examine your pet so that we are able to provide you with the following:
Body condition scoring and explaining how that applies to your pet
Ideal weight for your pet - based on size, age, gender and breed
Initial weight and chest and waist measurements
Feeding and exercise recommendations that suit you and your pet
Some encouragement for the start of this new journey
Once this initial consult is done, we will recommend routine weigh-ins free of charge at regular intervals to suit you, and help you and your fluffy counterpart achieve the ultimate end-goal of getting them to the healthiest and happiest they’ve ever been. What more could we wish for, for our favourite furry friends?