Obesity in pets is perhaps the most complex, challenging, and, ultimately, one of veterinary medicine’s most critical medical conditions. Nearly 60% of cats and 54% of dogs equaling over 50 million cats and 42 million dogs are at risk for weight-related disorders.
Why is weight loss for a pet so important?
Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight reduces your pet’s risk of disease, injury and contributes to a better quality of life and a longer life expectancy. Excess weight can reduce your pet’s life expectancy by more than two years.
Keeping your pet at a healthy weight lowers their risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, respiratory disease, kidney disease, and some forms of cancer. It can also reduce the chances of injury to bones, joints, and muscles associated with excess weight. Especially if your pet has arthritis, keeping them at a healthy weight makes it easier to manage the discomfort associated with joint pain.
How You Can Help Your Pet Lose Weight
Now that you know why pet weight loss is so significant, here are some things you can do to help them:
- Find out what your pet’s healthy weight should be. You need to know that to know if there is even a problem with their weight in the first place. To find out your pet’s healthy weight, you can use the online calculator here. You can also ask us; we are more than happy to discuss it with you and answer any questions.
- The specific food, frequency of feeding, and the number of calories your pet gets can all have a significant impact. Consult with us to create a personalized diet plan so that your pet’s weight is managed correctly. If weight management is done incorrectly, it can have a negative effect, so please do not change their diet without consulting us.
- Help your pet exercise more. A pet’s exercise requirement is based on their age, breed, size, and overall health. A rough rule for dogs is to spend 30 minutes to two hours on an activity every day. While cats sleep roughly 16 hours a day, they need exercise in their waking hours. You can help them get exercise by providing cat trees or other ways to climb. Playing with your cat using interactive toys (such as feather toys) is excellent. Interactive toys get cats using their hunting instincts. Cats should minimally have two play sessions of 10 to 15 minutes each per day.
Don’t Rush the Weight Loss Process
Be patient when working towards your pet’s weight loss goals. The last thing we want is for your pet not to get sufficient nutrition during their weight loss, as that can lead to its own set of problems.
Just as weight gain happens slowly, weight loss takes time too. A cat can safely lose about 0.5 to 2% of their body weight each week, and a dog can safely lose about 1 to 2% of their body weight each week. That means that a 50lb dog can safely lose 0.5 – 1lb per week, or a 20lb cat 2 – 6 oz per week.
Set many small goals for your pet’s weight loss progress along the way, that will help keep it fun and make it easier to see progress.
Our services are designed to help pet owners become great pet caretakers, and to help pets live healthy and happy lives. If your pet is overweight or obese, we are here to help you manage their weight loss so your pet can live a long and happy life. Please contact us if you have any concerns or questions about your pet’s weight
Ashley Tuma, D.V.M.