Pet Health: Be aware of pet obesity

Take steps to prevent pet obesity
Take steps to prevent pet obesity

Vet Darren Storey brings you the latest news from Northlands Veterinary Hospital.

We often here in the news about the obesity crises humans may be facing in the near future and all the health concerns associated with an increased body weight.

This is very similar in our pets.

Weight does matter but it can be managed easily with the right feeding and exercise regimes.

So, what is the ideal weight?

This is quite a difficult question to answer because there are so many variables, including the breed of your dog/cat, its age, and also the type of weight.

Remember you can get a fit and healthy 40st body builder or athlete but you can also get an obese person at 100Kg.

Therefore, we use a Body Condition Score (BCS assessment to identify the ideal body weight.

The ideal BCS for your cat or dog is 3/5

This BCS is applied to animals taking into consideration of certain body parameters:

O Ability to see and feel their ribs.

O Size and shape of their abdomen.

O Ability to see and feel their spine.

O Shape of their rumps and necks.

O Their ability to exercise.

It’s only a little treat, so surely that’s fine?

If you eat a cookie it isn’t a huge deal; unless you eat a packet.

However, a cookie to a dog is the same as you eating a whole cheeseburger (depending on the type of cookie).

I was surprised at this when learning about nutrition but it shows the dangers of giving human foods to a dog or cat.

A few comparisons are in the chart above.

The human parallel

“Oh, he’s only put on a few pounds” – a comment I often hear in my consulting room.

However, a couple of pounds on a small dog can be a huge amount when you try to relate it to a human.

For example, adding just 1lb to a chihuahua would be equivalent to a human female putting on 31lbs (2.2st)! Surprising, isn’t it?

The health complications:

Being overweight can cause a huge number of medical complications.

An overweight pet has an increased risk of things like (not a complete list):

O Arthritis/mobility problems

O Cardiovascular problems

O Gastrointestinal upsets

O Diabetes

O Developing certain cancers

How can I help my pet?

Remember, you are in control of what he or she eats, and also the amount of exercise they do.

This obviously has to be adapted to each animal as some medical problems may reduce the amount of walking or running they can handle.

It is a fine balance between diet and exercise.

First you need to assess your pet’s weight and BCS; try this guide.

From here you need to review your pet’s diet, including the treats you give. Then you need to look at the amount of exercise he or she is getting.

A few quick tips

O Weigh out the amount of food suitable for the weight you would like your pet to be. This is different for each food so read the packet carefully. Remember though, these are only a guide and no gospel.

O Split meals into 2 or 3

O Treats are ok within reason. Raw carrots and other root vegetables are great. Likewise if you are feeding a dry food, take a small amount out of their normal feed and use it as a treat. That way they get the same amount of food during the day.

O Try the ‘toy feeders’ where your pet must use energy to get to the food; plus it can be made into a nice game for them.

O For dogs 2 short walks a day are better than 1 long one.

O For cats think about putting their bowls in high places so they have to use energy to get to them, or try getting them to chase a toy or laser pen. Some people do even walk their cats.

Whether you are a client of Northlands or not we will happily give you more advice if you need it.

Please call 01536 485543 and ask to speak to a clinical member of staff.