Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? You know what I’m going to ask next: how about for your pets? Is Sophie almost as wide as she is long? Is it hard to feel ribs on Riley through the fat layer? Even one or two extra pounds can be too much on a cat or dog. Obesity is an extremely common problem in pets (some estimates say that more than half the pets in America are overweight), as it is in people, and can lead to a multitude of problems, disease and disorders.
The following is a list of some possible problems overweight and obese pets may have to face:
Arthritis or other bone or joint diseases
Hepatic lipidosis– “When an overweight cat goes off food or partially off food because of illness or psychological stress, body fat is mobilized to provide calories. Unfortunately, the cat’s liver was not designed to process a large amount of body fat. The liver becomes infiltrated with fat and then fails. A stress that might have been relatively minor, such as a cold, becomes a life-threatening disaster.”1
And finally. . .
Reduced life span– “A study of age-matched Labrador retrievers found that dogs kept on the slender side of normal lived a median of 2.5 years longer than their overweight counterparts.” 2.5 years.
“A common justification for over-feeding treats is that a pet deserves a higher quality of life as a trade off for longevity. While this might on some level makes sense (after all, a pet munching on a treat is certainly getting a great deal of satisfaction from doing so), the other consequences do not make for higher life quality in the big picture.”
If the pet cannot heartily enjoy playtime, or even a quick walk outside without breathing difficulty- is that a good quality of life? Extra inches of fat surrounding the ribs makes it hard for them to take deep breaths and fully inflate their lungs, resulting in shortness of breath and coughing after even the lightest exercise- sometimes just getting up from a resting position.
And speaking of getting up from a resting position- extra weight puts more strain on the joints, including elbows, knees, hips and the vertebrae in the back and neck. The extra stress on the joints causes them to degenerate, which results in pain and increases the risk of injury such as ruptured ligaments in the knee, ruptured discs in the neck or back, or fractured bones. All of these (possibly preventable) injuries could require surgical correction, which requires anesthesia, which is inherently riskier in the overweight patient and will cost you thousands of dollars and months of your pet’s life spent recovering.
Luckily, all of that pain, stress and financial burden can be avoided! You can feed your pet less food and treats (including human food), saving you money and keeping her at a healthy weight, and consequently enjoying the extra months spent NOT helping her recover from surgery and all the extra years you will have with her!
Our pets can’t make themselves fat- they don’t fill their own bowls and they can’t open bags of treats- we are responsible.
Are you frightened at the possibility of your pet needing surgery as a result of being overweight? Bring her in for an exam so we can catch any potential problems as early as possible!
Are you unsure whether your pet is at a healthy weight or tipping the scale a little too far? Bring him in! We will get an accurate weight and measure various parts of his body to get a detailed picture of his overall body condition . . . and determine once and for all if he really is just “big-boned.” Don’t worry- we’ll be honest!
1 All quoted selections from www.veterinarypartner.com