Did you know it’s possible to literally kill your pet with kindness? Daily treats may give the illusion that all is well, but the reality is that the extra treats can result in an overweight pet. That extra weight can cause lasting damage to your pet’s internal organs, bones, and joints — some of which can never be remedied even with a change in diet and exercise.
It isn’t surprising that excess weight can take as much of a toll on an animal’s body as it does on a human’s body. While some of the effects of obesity can be reversed through attentive diet changes and increased physical activity, others can only be mitigated by the change of habits. Some damage will remain for life, and the longer the excess weight is on the body, the more severe the damage to the body will be.
We want to help your pet be as healthy as possible! So, here are some ways to identify whether your pet is overweight or obese, along with a few beginning steps on how to reverse the damage before it’s too late.
What Kinds of Signs Should You Look Out For In An Overweight Pet?
You might not notice if your dog or cat has been gradually putting on some extra weight. But it’s much more common to notice when your pet starts slowing down significantly. More often it is your animal’s regular groomer or veterinarian that will notice your pet’s physical changes.
To do a check on your pet, feel around its midsection while your pet is standing. The ribs and spine should be easy to feel, and on most pets, there should be a tucked in, or slight hourglass shape to the waist. If you cannot easily feel your dog or cat’s ribs or spine, and the tucked-in waist has thickened considerably enough to give the animal a more tubular shape, it is time for you to consult with your veterinarian about a weight loss regimen for your pet.
What Harm Can a Few Pounds Do?
A gain of even a pound or two of additional fat on some dogs and cats can place significant stress on the body. Some of the conditions that can occur as a result of excess weight are:
- Exercise intolerance and decreased stamina
- Respiratory compromise (breathing difficulty)
- Heat intolerance
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Diabetes or insulin resistance
- Liver disease or dysfunction
- Osteoarthritis (lameness)
- Increased surgical/anesthetic risk
- Lowered immune system function
- Increased risk of developing malignant tumors (cancer)
What Can Be Done to Alleviate the Damage?
In many cultures, the sharing of food is regarded as a loving gesture, but the most loving thing you can do for your overweight pet is to put it on a diet. This is the only way to ensure that your pet will have the best opportunity for a life that is full of activity and good health. Besides, there are lots of healthy treats available, and lots of loving gestures you can share with your pet without worrying about them leading to weight gain. If you have concerns about your pet, talk to your veterinarian. They can recommend a good, reduced-calorie food and exercise plan that will specifically benefit your pet’s age, weight, and breed. With the right food and exercise, your pet will be on the road to recovery before it’s too late.