Obese Pets: Why It Can Be Dangerous

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September 8, 2011
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All the pets I’ve had have been a little chubby. Some had a layer that covered their ribs and others had a belly. One of my cats seems to have gained weight over the summer and he’s been on a diet which he protests about every day. It’s for his own good and to make sure he lives a longer, healthier life. Obese pets face a number of health problems which could lead to medications, special food, and more frequent vet visits.

Obesity is defined as an excess of body fat in pets which impair health and body functions. 10 to 20% of weight that exceeds their ideal body weight are considered overweight and pets that have more than 20% of weight above their ideal are considered obese.

Obese pets have a greater chance of having problems like arthritis and back problems, as well as a weaker immune system. They may also have a greater chance of developing diabetes, liver disease, and cats are at a greater risk of having urinary tract problems, skin problems, and greater sensitivity to weather due to their weight. Many pets that are overweight also have a shorter life span which can be heart breaking.

Figuring out if your pet is overweight or obese is more than just weighing him. It also depends on your pet’s body build and condition. I’ve had cats that were petite and weighed only 5 lbs and others that were healthy at 13 lbs. The body condition of your pet takes into consideration the weight, height, and proportions of body muscle and fat. Your vet can help you determine what would be an ideal weight for your pet. Once you know what your pet’s weight should be, monitoring their intake, exercise, and overall health can help you know how to best take care of them.

The weather is starting to cool down and pets sometimes perk up a little more. This means more playtime and longer walks. If your pet tends to get a lot of treats, try cutting those down or buy higher quality ones that contain less fat but more minerals and vitamins that are good for them. Take longer walks in the evenings with your dog and see if you can get your cat to start chasing that catnip around the house again. A thinner pet can mean a healthier, longer living pet!

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