Is Your Pet Overweight? Recognizing Pet Obesity
By Dr. Arden Gillespie
Fall is rapidly approaching and with it comes cooler weather and a much-welcomed hiatus from the sweltering summer heat here in Utah’s Dixie. If your pets are like mine, they love summer, but the heat can be taxing on them. They spend the majority of their days lounging around the house, soaking up the air conditioner, and sleeping away the hottest part of the day. While this is great when it comes to avoiding heat stroke, it can easily contribute to the growing obesity problem seen throughout the United States. It is estimated that over half of our nation’s dogs and cats are overweight or obese. This increase in weight brings an increase in the obesity-related disorders seen on a regular basis here at Washington Family Veterinary Clinic. Two of the most common that we see are osteoarthritis and type 2 diabetes. As with your other family doctors, we are here to assist you in recognizing, avoiding, and if necessary, reversing this trend with your furry family members.
The number one step in combating pet obesity is recognizing that your pet is obese. We are happy to have you stop by at any time to weigh your pets on our in-floor scale to compare their current weight to their previous veterinary visit weight. If you can’t make it in to see us, try the “rib check.” You should be able to easily feel your pet’s ribs under a thin layer of skin. If you’re pushing through a pad of plump, chances are your pet is too heavy. Next, look at your dog or cat standing from the side. Does its belly sag and dip toward the floor? Pets at a healthy weight will actually have a belly that is taut, tight, and turns upward instead of sagging down. Finally, when you look down at your pet, you should see a subtle hourglass silhouette, not a rounding blimp outline. In general, if you think your pet is carrying a few extra pounds, it probably is.
Weight loss involves much more than “feed a low-calorie diet” and “exercise more.” Often, obesity is attributed to a metabolic issue or hormonal changes. Weight loss should be addressed as any other medical condition: history, diagnostic tests, treatment, and follow-up care. Working together, we will come up with the best plan for your pet, including therapeutic diets, medication, and a daily exercise regimen that will keep everyone in the family active and healthy.
Weight loss is an ongoing process that requires constant vigilance and monitoring. Follow-up care with your veterinarian is essential for long-term success. Our goal is helping you to develop an active, healthy lifestyle for both you and your pet. With a little effort and a lot of patience, you and your pets will have a lifetime of active, healthy fun.