Weight Gain in Our Dogs and Cats and What We Can Do About It
With spring around the corner, many of us start considering the extra pounds we may have put on over a cold and inactive winter. But we also need to consider weight ga in our dogs, cats and other pets. Does your pet resemble the dogs and cats profiled in the body condition scoring in images 4 (overweight dog) and/or 5 (obese dog)? If so, it is time to consider getting your pet onto a weight loss program!in
Just like us, dogs and cats who gain weight can have difficulty getting the extra pounds off. Remember that our animals have a shorter life span than us humans (and they’re smaller than us), so weight gains can have profound impacts on their health. Arthritis/ joint pain, heart disease and diabetes in overweight dogs and cats are just some of the more common conditions and diseases that can occur due to excessive weight gain. Obesity is a disease which needs to be taken seriously. Excess fat tissue produces “adipokines which cause or contribute to hundreds of harmful inflammatory process throughout the body” (Dr. Ernie Ward, DVM: Effective weight loss plans and weight management, 2015) Keeping our furry family members trim, is the single most important thing we can do for their health and longevity.
While lack of exercise can certainly contribute to weight gain in dogs and cats, most often the main cause of obesity in our pets is overfeeding. Each pet has an ideal weight and it is up to us to accurately measure their food intake so as to ensure that they are getting the proper amount of calories for their life stage and their activity level. Your Veterinarian and the Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) at your Vet Clinic or local Animal Hospital can help you come up with a feeding plan for your dog or cat that is both nutritious and that will help keep your pet slim, and help your pet lose weight if it is necessary.
In addition to using the knowledge of your Vet and RVT, here are a couple of websites to help you with your pet’s weight loss:
http://petobesityprevention.org/: This website offers many insights into obesity and also some good tips on how to walk your dog with weight loss in mind.
http://www.hillspet.ca/en/ca/pet-care/nutrition-feeding/human-food-treat-translator: This link will take you to a page that has a search list. Click on “What human food does to your pet: Human Caloric Equivalents.” It is an interesting look at treats and what kind of impact they have on our pet’s diet.
https://indoorpet.osu.edu/cats/basicneeds/toys: Lots of ideas on how to increase your indoor cat’s activity level.
Yours in Pet Wellness,
Brenda, RVT at North Yonge Veterinary Hospital
Brenda grew up in the Newmarket area and graduated from Seneca College’s Veterinary Technician program in 2011. In the summer of 2013, she completed Seneca’s wildlife technician course and did a placement at Peterborough’s Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre (KTTC), a clinic that treats turtles injured by cars and boats and returns them to the wild. The experience gave Brenda a deep interest in wildlife rehab, and she plans to do more work at KTTC in the future. She also spent two weeks at the Long Point Bird Observatory helping to band birds during migration.
Brenda loves developing a good friendly rapport with her clients and their pets and works hard to make sure every pet feels comfortable under her care. She has helped a number of clients in getting their pets to lose weight. Around the clinic, she’s known as “the organizer” and loves putting labels on everything.
Brenda is married with two children and has her hands full with two dogs (Benjamin and Guinness), two cats, a horse and a guinea pig. She loves cross-country skiing, Pilates and birding. Her ideal Sunday would include an early morning hike in the regional forest, some work in her garden, a swim in the pool, a nap in the shade and finally a family BBQ. Her one weakness is her overwhelming love of chocolate.