Today, almost 50% of pets are overweight. It can be a difficult task to get a pet’s weight down to a healthy level. However, our furry friends will have a much better lifestyle if they’re maintained at a healthy weight.
There are many common health problems that are associated with obesity:
– Type 2 diabetes (cats especially prone to this)
– Cardiac/Respiratory disease
– High Blood Pressure
– Certain forms of cancer
Pets will also have trouble with grooming, and will be much less apt to play with their owners when they’re carrying too much weight.
If you’re unsure as to whether your pet is overweight, ask your pet’s health care team. They can assess your pet’s body condition score (BCS) and give you an idea of what your pet’s ideal weight is and how to get them there. A restricted amount of calories in the diet per day is recommended, and choosing a diet specifically formulated for weight loss is always a good idea – there are brands out there that have added fibre to help your pet FEEL more full, which will help reduce begging. Reducing treats, or accounting for them in the daily calorie count, is also recommended.
Increasing physical exercise is also a good idea when working on weight loss for your pet – this will increase muscle mass which will help increase your pet’s metabolism and make it easier to burn off excess fat.
It’s always wise to keep in touch with your health care team during the weight loss process. Monthly weight checks to ensure that your pet isn’t losing weight TOO quickly are highly recommended. A pet should not lose more than 1-2% of their body weight PER WEEK. Their body condition score should also be assessed regularly to ensure that your pet isn’t losing muscle mass.
Once your pet has achieved an ideal weight and body condition score, you’ll want to STOP the weight loss. Your pet’s health care team with help you with this by recalculating the number of calories per day your pet should be eating – to achieve weight MAINTENANCE instead of weight LOSS. Regular weight checks, as well as regular wellness exams, are recommended to ensure all your hard work getting your pet to a healthy weight isn’t wasted. As pets age, their energy requirements will change, so knowing if your pets weight is going up or down will help you prevent too much weight gain, or loss.
In the end, your pet will benefit from a healthy weight regime – pets will live longer, healthier lives when they’re not burdened with excess weight.