Unfortunately pet obesity is one of the biggest nutritional problems we see at Fox Valley Animal Hospital.
The good thing is it can be rectified with the right help, diet and exercise. And the benefits of a slimmer, healthier pet will equal extra years with your special companion.
Last blog we covered the reasons why our pet’s become obese, Now let’s look at the major ramifications associated with pet obesity and what it means in terms of health, illness and risks.
The reality is an overweight pet is an unhealthy pet and at an increased risk of many serious problems that are associated with obesity.
The harsh facts and risks associated with pet obesity
- Increased risk of diabetes mellitus – One of the most common complications of obesity in dogs and cats is diabetes mellitus. In a nut shell, this disease causes the pancreas to not produce enough insulin. Pets and people need insulin to effectively use sugar, fats and proteins in the body. Diabetes in pets is treatable with daily injections of insulin but requires strict owner compliance. It’s not a nice disease for our pets and comes with a whole lot of other problems secondary to the diabetes such as re-occurring urinary tract infections. Pets that drink and urinate excessively should be checked out for diabetes. Blood and urine tests help us diagnose this disease.
- Damage to joint, bones and ligaments – Our pets are uniquely designed to run after a ball at high speeds or jump from trees. When our pets become obese, the amount of extra pressure put onto joints can lead to pet arthritis , damaged tendons, sprains or tears of ligaments, slipped discs and much more through increased impact on the skeleton and muscles in your pet.
Heart disease and hypertension (increased blood pressure) – Most obese pets have increased blood pressure. This puts an extra strain on the heart as it has more work in pumping blood around to the extra fatty tissue. This can do damage to the heart and heart muscles over time as it needs to work harder and harder to perform day-to-day functions.
- Breathing difficulties – Excess fat pushes up from the abdomen into the chest. This in turn makes it harder for your pet to breath. Fat around the chest makes it harder for the lungs to expand. And excess fat in general health terms makes it harder for the lungs to maintain oxygen supply.
- Decreased stamina – Imagine carting a heavy backpack around with you every day. This is what obesity feels like for your pet. Carrying all that extra weight puts extra strain on the joints, respiratory system, heart, and muscles. It decreases in stamina and endurance.
- Heart intolerance – Fat is an excellent insulator which is fine if you’re a polar bear. It’s not great for a dog or cat. During the summer months, this fat insulation can make your pet uncomfortable and miserable. And the increased risk of heat stroke associated with that inability to manage temperature properly can be fatal.
- Decreased liver function – The liver stores fat so when there is an excess it will build up resulting in hepatic lipidosis. As a result, your pet’s liver may not function as well with important tasks like breaking down food and processing vitamins, minerals and enzymes.
- Increased anaesthetic risk – Due to the increased workload for the heart and lungs, obese pets are in a high risk category for anaesthetic complications. We take anaesthetising a patient seriously. Lots of anaesthetic drugs are stored in the body fat this means obese pets can take longer to wake up as the body needs extra time to flush these drugs from the fat. The liver also metabolises many of the anaesthetic drugs. Obese pets that have a fatty liver will have compromised liver function and this too makes it a longer wake up process. Longer waking times can influence your pet’s ability to come through a surgery safely.
- Skin and coat problems– Obese pets many not be able to groom properly, especially in the case of cats. They can also develop abnormal skin folds that can become infected. This is usually due to the lack of natural circulating air against the skin, excess sweat and skin secretions coupled with friction. The skin is our pet’s biggest organ and needs looking after for overall health as our very own Dr Katie explains in a recent skin blog.
Bigger weights mean decreased happiness
It is evident from the big list above that our overweight pet has a lot to deal with. Heart problems and issues breathing are all going to contribute to an early grave. Medical diseases due to obesity carry other problems.
An overweight pet that can’t run around the park or move freely will surely be depressed to some extent. A cat that finds it hard to groom due to its ever expanding abdomen will feel irritated and uncomfortable.
Showering your pet with human scraps, excess food or an abundance of treats will reduce their life expectancy. They cannot control the amount of food they consume so it’s up to us as responsible owners to do so. Over feeding is not a substitute for love. If anything, saying no to Fido when he wants that sausage is a much kinder thing to do.
So there you have it, there’s nothing nice about being an overweight pet. The long list of medical conditions and problems are endless.
Next blog we’ll discuss how to shed the extra kilos in the home. I have some useful tricks and hints to share that will keep your pet happy and on track.
And the good news you can start your pet’s journey to a healthy weight right now. Fox Valley Animal Hospital run a slimmers clubs to offer advice and dietary information for any pet struggling with weight and diet issues.
Please pop in for a free ‘weigh in’ and health check with one of the vet nurses. We can tailor a plan and get your pet joined up to our ‘slimmers club’ to get your pet moving towards a better, healthier weight.