Americans and their pets appear to have one thing in common: they are both overweight. The problem is that they eat too much and too often. Along with excessive eating, the amount of exercise needed to burn up the calories is not sufficient. Also, the foods we feed to our pets (as well as what we eat ourselves) are very high in calories.
There are several reasons why your dog may be overweight. The most common causes include over-eating, diabetes mellitus, hypothyroidism, Cushing’s disease (hyperadrenocorticism) and obsessive-compulsive eating disorder. Obesity is more commonly due to over-eating than disease in both dogs and cats!
Obese animals tend to live a shorter life than animals that are trim. Fat dogs have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, liver disease, diabetes, orthopedic problems, and even neurological problems. Fat cats are particularly at risk of deadly liver disease. Dogs and cats that are overweight often experience difficulty breathing and become less able to tolerate heat. They may also experience difficulty walking or be unable to tolerate regular exercise due to muscle weakness. As responsible pet owners, we need to make sure that our pets are eating properly and not excessively overweight.
Recent studies have shown that 53 percent of American dogs are overweight and about 58 percent of cats are fat.
Planning a Diet
If your pet is overweight, work with your veterinarian to decide on and stick to a proper weight-reduction plan. Your veterinarian can help assess your pet’s weight and help create a reduction plan. He or she can also determine whether there are any complicating disease concerns. In some cases, a prescription type of low calorie food may be recommended.
Weight should be lost gradually. Starvation diets are inhumane and rarely work. Crash diets can be fatal for overweight cats. Most pets require 10 to 12 months on a weight loss plan before results are achieved. Dogs and cats should eat twice a day and be fed reasonable amounts of high fiber low fat food. Also, treats should be suitably formulated — small and strictly rationed.
A Proper Diet Is Key To Your Dog’s Overall Health
General Weight Loss Instructions
Weight loss should be a family effort. All members of the family must admit the animal is overweight and commit to a weight loss program.
- One person should take charge of feeding the pet.
- If the pet is extremely overweight, the diet must be changed to a therapeutic veterinary diet specifically designed for weight loss. Simply feeding less of your pet’s regular food is rarely, if ever, successful.
- Owners must be willing to measure exactly the amount of food offered. Minimize treats. If treats for dogs are necessary, offer low calorie snacks such as air popped popcorn or a piece of vegetable (such as carrots or green beans).
- Most animals do achieve ideal or near ideal body weight when the owner and family members are committed to improving the pet’s health.
- In order to maintain the ideal weight, it is often necessary to continue feeding the weight loss die. The amount of food however, is generally increased.
Food Recommendations for Feeding Overweight Pets
Lower your pet’s daily caloric intake by 50 percent of that required at their ideal body weight.
Change the pet food product to one designed for weight loss and containing:
- less than 340 kcal per 100 g of food on a dry matter basis.
- between 5-10 percent fat.
- between 10-30 percent crude fiber.
- greater than 25 percent crude protein.
Feed your pet twice a day.
Feed the prescribed measured amount of food.
Give treats only as directed. Use specifically designed low calorie treats or give cooked or raw vegetables to dogs.
Exercise is an important factor in weight loss. As with humans, exercise provides an outlet for pent-up energy. Another benefit from exercise is that it leads to the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain. Serotonin has two effects that might be relevant: first, it helps to prevent depression and has anti-obsessive properties. Second, it reduces appetite. Both are desirable for weight loss.
Recently, a new medication has been introduced for weight loss in dogs. This prescription medication is available only through your veterinarian.
Your pet’s weight contributes significantly to his or her well-being. A fat dog or cat is generally lethargic and does not live life to the fullest. A trim healthy animal is much more active and truly makes a more enjoyable companion.
If your pet is overweight, the best first step is to call 718-383-VETS and make an appointment with a veterinarian at Long Island City Veterinary Center.Tags: fat cat, Long Island City Veterinary Center, obese dog, overweight cats, overweight dogs, pet obesity