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Why Is Your Pet’s Weight So Important?

An elderly woman hugging her dog

Just like with people, being overweight can have a significant impact on your pet’s overall health. Both dogs and cats can develop various diseases as a result of being obese or overweight. In some instances, neglecting your pet’s weight may even shorten their lifespan.

What Causes Pet Obesity?

Pet obesity is caused by eating too many calories and doing too little exercise. According to a 2018 survey by the Pet Obesity Prevention Organization, it’s estimated that over half of the pets in the U.S. — about 59.5% of cats and 55.8% of dogs — are either obese or overweight. This means a significant portion of our pet population has weight problems, and this issue needs urgent attention from both pet owners and professional veterinarians.

What Are The Side Effects Of Pet Obesity?

Being overweight is detrimental to a pet’s health and well-being. Some of the adverse effects include:

  • Arthritis: Large dog breeds may struggle to get up and move around due to the pain caused by arthritis. This eventually makes it harder for them to do exercise and shed their excess weight. Small dogs can develop luxating patella, a condition in which the kneecap pops out of the socket. If this condition gets out of hand, it may require surgery. Cats may avoid using their litter box because their arthritis makes it difficult for them to get into it.
  • Breathing difficulties: Dog breeds that have a pushed-in face, like Frenchies, bulldogs and Boston terriers, have short airways. Excess weight can lead to breathing problems, causing them to snore and make a lot of noise when they breathe.
  • Intolerance to heat: In a hot climate like that of Florida, an overweight pet will find it difficult to cope with the heat and may end up panting excessively.
  • High blood pressure: Just like humans, overweight pets can end up with high blood pressure, heart-related problems and liver disease.
  • Diabetes: In cats, diabetes is directly linked to being overweight. When the weight problem is resolved, the cat no longer needs to take insulin.

How Can You Help Your Pet Maintain A Healthy Weight?

A veterinarian can help you assess your pet’s weight when you take them in for a routine wellness check. In the meantime, here are a few good steps you can take to prevent your pet from becoming obese:

  • Feed your pet a healthy diet that matches their weight, age and exercise level
  • Give treats with moderation
  • Ensure your pet gets regular exercise and fresh air

What Can You Do To Treat Your Overweight Pet?

It takes just an extra 10% of the pet’s healthy body score to be overweight, and an additional 20% will cause a pet to be classified as obese. So, if you notice that your pet is putting on excess weight or is reluctant to get up and do regular exercise, you need to seek help early.

Your vet will recommend a healthy diet and an exercise routine that will improve your pet’s metabolism and help keep away any excess pounds.

Contact University Animal Clinic For More Information

Call us today at 941-355-7707 for more information on how to maintain the ideal weight for your pet, or to schedule your appointment online. Our AAHA accredited vet clinic provides the best quality veterinary care for your furry friends. We also offer special wellness plans (preventive care) that can reduce the cost of caring for your pet.