Your dog or cat may be at risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, joint problems, respiratory difficulties or diabetes if they are carrying excess weight. The Winter months is an especially difficult time of year when it comes to getting and keeping weight off because there is less opportunity for outside exercise, therefore, even the usual amounts of food can increase the poundage. An overweight dog has an increased risk of developing transitional cell cancer of the bladder. Fat cats and dogs are at greater risk when going under anesthesia, even for routine procedures such as dentals. Obesity is defined as the accumulation of an excessive quantity of fat.
Common causes of weight gain are:
- Overeating--pets who are eating high calorie foods, treats and table scraps tend to gain weight.
- Disease--Some medical disorders, such as hypothyroidism can cause weight gain in dogs.
- Decreased activity--Pets that aren't getting enough activity can gain weight, they also need fewer calories.
- Neutering/spaying--Increases the chance of weight gain.
- Age--As a pet ages he/she often becomes less active, requiring fewer calories. Continuing to feed the same amount of food as when the animal was younger will result in increased weight.
- A lean dog lives a median of 1.8 years longer and the onset of chronic disease is delayed by 2 years.
Can you feel your pet's ribs? If you can't feel them easily, your pet may be overweight. What are some criteria you can check at home that will give you insight into your animal's nutritional status?
- RIBS--easily felt with slight fat cover
- TAIL BASE--smooth contour with slight cover
- SIDE VIEW--abdominal tuck
- OVERHEAD VIEW--well-proportioned waist
- RIBS--difficult to feel under moderate fat cover
- TAIL BASE--some thickening, bones palpable under moderate fat cover
- SIDE VIEW--no abdominal tuck
- OVERHEAD VIEW--back is slightly broadened at waist
- RIBS --difficult to feel under thick fat cover
- TAIL BASE--thickened and difficult to feel under thick fat cover
- SIDE VIEW--no waist, fat hangs from abdomen
- OVERHEAD VIEW--back is markedly broadened
What can YOU do to help?
- Make a total commitment to help your pet lose weight
- Follow your veterinarian's feeding recommendation
- If feeding a high fiber food, increase your pet's water intake
- Avoid feeding your pet table scraps
- Divide the total amount to be fed each day into 3 or 4 smaller meals
- Regular, moderate exercise will help your pet and it's a great way to spend time together
- Monitor your pet's weight regularly
- Assess progress by checking if you can feel your pet's ribs easily
Getting to and maintaining an ideal body weight will extend your pet's life. It's important to feed the correct foods that result in safe, effective weight management while helping your pet feel full.You'll need to work with your vet to choose the best product for your pet. There needs to be the proper balance of nutrients to help your animal achieve and maintain the proper weight. The following are especially important for your pet.
- A special formulation that helps your pet feel full and reduces begging.
- Highest levels of L-carnitine to help convert fat into energy while maintaining lean muscle mass.
- Added antioxidants to reduce free radical damage and counteract oxidative stress.
So, how do I go about changing my pet's diet?
- Speak to your vet before changing your pet's food or any medication.
- Follow any recommendations made by your vet; including follow-up weight checks.
- Gradually introduce new food over a 7 day period by mixing old with new; gradually decreasing the previous food and increasing the new food.
- If your pet just says "NO", warm the canned product to body temperature or hand feed or mix the dry with warm water (dogs only). Make sure any moist food is only left out for an hour otherwise the spoilage and bacterial growth could cause illness.
Be patient but firm with your pet; success and his/her quality and longevity depend on strict adherence to the new feeding regimen. Contact your veterinarian if your pet refuses to eat.
Just for fun: visit: www.pfizeranimalhealth.com and take the quiz to check your dog's feeding and exercise habits.