Veterinarians Warn: A Fat Pet Is Not A Happy Pet

Posted on: 16 June 2015


For more pet owners today, pets are becoming part of the family. And while this brings with it many good things for both animals and humans, it may also bring a human family problem. What is that? Obesity.

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention recently found that more than 52% of dogs and 57% of cats are overweight or obese, and veterinarians often believe the problem is getting worse. Obesity is dangerous for animals just as it is for humans. It can result in Type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, decreased life expectancy and an increase in many types of cancer.

Is Your Pet Overweight?

One of the biggest difficulties in managing a pet's weight is what some experts call "the pet fat gap". This gap indicates that many owners fail to recognize that their pet is overweight even when veterinarians diagnose it.

So, how can you assess your own pet's healthy weight? Along with working with your veterinarian, you can keep tabs on your dog or cat's weight by looking for the following:

  • Ribs should be easily felt
  • The pet should have a visible waist viewed from above
  • You should not be able to grab a handful of fat from the stomach

If your pet is overweight, it's important to recognize the signs and work with the veterinarian. Denial of the problem leads to the pet fat gap and leaves your pet vulnerable to disease.

What Can You Do?

Your veterinarian can provide information on the ideal weight for each animal and breed. If your pet is overweight, the first step is to determine if there are any diseases that can cause weight gain. Once that is ruled out, the doctor can provide information on choosing healthier pet food options and how to determine the best portion control of foods and snacks. Increased exercise may also help get your dog or cat's weight under control.

Exotic pets suffering from obesity may require a larger change in diet and exercise. Pelleted or block food products produced specifically for pets such as hedgehogs, rats or guinea pigs generally work better for their diets than homemade foods. If your exotic pet's diet includes insects, avoid such fatty insects as mealworms and waxworms, and talk with your veterinarian about the nutritional value of other insects available locally.  

Your Pet Relies on You

Pet obesity is not a pet problem; it's a people problem. And for that reason, your pet is relying on you to take charge of the solution and follow through. Show your love by maintaining a healthy pet and a healthy weight.