Obesity in dogs and cats

Obesity in dogs and cats has the same cause as in humans: the body absorbs more energy than it produces. Life is too easy, food too available. Too much food and too little exercise, coupled with a low metabolic rate, can cause your pet to bloat quickly. One in 10 cats is overweight. Four dogs out of 10 are overweight. Why is this a cause for concern? You love your pet fast as much as you do lean. But a fat pet is at higher risk for diseases of the skin, heart, stomach, liver, and kidneys. Being overweight can contribute to diabetes. It puts a load on the joints and contributes to osteoarthritis. And it increases the tendency to suffer from heat stroke and lengthens the recovery time from surgery. As anyone who has owned a fat animal knows, treating pet obesity is more difficult than preventing it. If your pet has a tendency to gain weight, try the following:

  1. Check your dog or cat for extra weight by feeling for their sides; you should be able to feel the ribs easily. If there is more than ΒΌ inch of fat between the fur and the ribs, the animal is overweight. You should be able to see a dog’s waist from above.
  2. Know your pet’s weight and track it. Most vets have a scale that you can weigh your dog on. You can also weigh your pet at home if it is light enough to be easily lifted in your arms. First weigh yourself. Then hold your pet in your arms and step onto the scale. Subtract your weight from the combined weight of you and your pet.
  3. Check with your veterinarian before putting your dog or cat on a diet. In general, reduce caloric intake to 75 percent of what an animal of its weight should normally eat. Buy low-fat foods; compare labels. For dogs, add fiber, such as a bulking agent (Metamucil), bran, or canned vegetables (at 10-15 percent of the animal’s food). Commercial diet foods come with instructions on how much to feed animals of various sizes to lose weight safely. Change the diet in increments (change foods) rather than all at once, otherwise the animal may have diarrhea. Supplement with multivitamins. The most important thing is to discuss your animal’s diet with your veterinarians.
  4. Try to feed an overweight dog or cat more often. Take the daily ration and divide it into three meals, for example.
  5. Give your dog plenty of exercise, but build it up slowly. Do not exercise the animal within one hour after eating. Small dogs may only need the exercise they get in the house or garden. Older dogs may just need to be taken for a walk. Other dogs may chase balls or sticks. You can also walk your cat on a leash if you use a harness instead of a collar, which could cause your cat to choke.
  6. Do not feed your animal from the table and try to cut down on snacks such as cat treats and dog biscuits, which are high in fat. Animals are very good at begging, and all your efforts to help your pet lose weight may be thwarted by a soft-hearted but uninformed family member slipping pet treats on the sly. Convince family members that it is an act of kindness to help the animal lose weight. Be hard of heart. If you give him treats, calculate the calories.

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