Over the past years obesity has become more common in UK pets. Just as we hear about in people, we are also facing an “obesity epidemic” in our dogs and cats. There are many health risks associated with dogs and cat that are overweight. Animals that are overweight are more prone to diabetes, urinary tract disease, pancreatitis and osteoarthritis/lameness. Obesity increases risks associated with anaesthesia. Put simply, obesity reduces the quality of an animal’s life and can shorten their life.There are many factors affecting the weight of your pet:
- Neutered pets – we recommend neutering of dogs and cats for population control and health reasons. After neutering the metabolism slows by 30% and so the food must be reduced accordingly and the weight of your pet closely monitored. Neutering is not an excuse for obesity – all Guide Dogs are neutered, and you never see a fat Guide Dog as their weight is closely monitored by the GDBA as one of the many measures ensuring the welfare of their dogs.
- Age – metabolism can slow and activity will often decrease as an animal ages
- Medications and Illnesses – some medications cause an increase in appetite (eg. Corticosteroids) and weight must be managed accordingly. Hormonal imbalances can also lead to weight gain (as well as weight loss!).
- Activity/exercise – This is particularly applicable to indoor cats who will tend to be quite sedentary creatures given the. Recent research has shown in dogs that food intake, not exercise, is the most important factor affecting weight loss. Exercise is still good to keep your pet fit and active and is great for maintaining a healthy weight.
How can you tell if your pet is overweight?
In the practice, we don’t just look at the number on the scales, but we assign your pet a Body Condition Score (BCS). We use a scale of 1-5 where 1 is too thin and 5 is grossly obese. We would love all your pets to be a 3! In summary we are looking for the ribs to be easy to feel without excess fat cover, and there should be an obvious waist when viewed from above. Click here for more information about BCSs.