In 2022, statistics showed that 59% of dogs and 61% of cats were overweight or obese. Weight loss may be a challenge for anyone, including pets. The great news is losing weight and being healthy can make those extra years more enjoyable. Since it’s National Pet Obesity Awareness Day on October 11, Mount Carmel Animal Hospital shares the importance of a healthy weight for your dog or cat.
A few pounds above your dog’s or cat’s ideal weight can put it at risk of developing some severe health conditions. Studies show that excess unhealthy fatty tissue can provoke debilitating conditions and disease and minimize a pet’s life expectancy by an average of two years. Canine and feline weight-related disorders include:
- Osteoarthritis and other orthopedic issues, such as cruciate tear and luxating patella
- Diabetes – a cat with obesity is at least 3x more likely to develop diabetes than a cat at a healthy weight
- Respiratory and heart disease
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Kidney disease
- Chronic inflammation
Studies show that dogs and cats tend to interact less with their families and are often less energetic and playful.
Weight Loss for Dogs
So, how can you assist your canine in losing weight safely? Contribute to National Pet Obesity Awareness Day by seeing a veterinarian. You should never put your dog or cat on a diet without the professional help of a veterinary healthcare team. At Mount Carmel Animal Hospital, we ensure your pet has no underlying medical condition or disease process causing your dog’s excess weight. We will also create a tailored diet to ensure your pet will lose weight while still receiving all the vital nutrients they need to stay healthy.
It’s essential that you count calories when entering a weight reduction program. Many times, over-the-counter diets are higher in calorie content, and reducing the quantity enough to make a difference in your pet would put them at risk for malnutrition. In these cases, the most effective method for weight loss is to feed a prescription food especially formulated to maximize nutrients and minimize calories. Feeding excessively will lead to no weight loss, and providing too little can result in severe consequences like hepatic lipidosis.
As with us humans, exercise is key in weight loss for our four-legged friends. Again, you should not start an exercise regime for your pet without first consulting a veterinarian. If you push your pet too hard or too fast, you can cause serious injury. Here at Mount Carmel Animal Hospital, we also offer Fitness Consults and Fitness Conditioning. We will custom-create an exercise program for your dog that will include exercises, underwater treadmill sessions, stretches, and specific homework for you and your pup. Underwater treadmill is a great way to start your dog exercising, as the buoyancy reduces the stress on their joints and helps prevent injury from overuse.
Weight Loss for Cats
Cat physiology varies from humans as dogs. If cats consume nothing or very little for as little as two consecutive days, they can develop fatty liver disease or hepatic lipidosis. Overweight or obese cats are more at risk for developing hepatic lipidosis. Hepatic lipidosis is a life-threatening condition that requires aggressive supportive care and treatment including hospitalization. Many cats require a feeding tube be placed to achieve the necessary nutritional supplementation. Therefore, it’s best to consult with us to determine your cat’s ideal calorie intake. We will formulate a diet specifically for your cat to avoid any complications during their weight loss journey.
Exercise for cats can be more difficult than with dogs and requires a little creativity. You can utilize treat toys that require your cat to play and chase the toy in order to get their food. You can also place their food in different areas to force them to get some steps in to finish their breakfast. Again, you should not start an exercise program with your cat before consulting a veterinarian to ensure you are not putting your cat at risk of injury.
Overall, work closely with our veterinary team to reach your goals faster and safer by National Pet Obesity Awareness Day.
HERE AT MOUNT CARMEL ANIMAL HOSPITAL, WE’LL TREAT YOUR PETS LIKE FAMILY!
Mount Carmel Animal Hospital has been serving the Northern Baltimore/Southern York community for over 30 years and is proud to be an independently operated, small animal practice committed to excellence in veterinary medicine and client service. From grooming to wellness services, along with Canine Life Skills Training Courses, and surgical procedures, we have the expertise that will best serve the needs of you and your pet. Contact us at 410-343-0200 and follow us on Facebook!