Pet weight watchers: you and your pet’s veterinary health care team
With a new year just started, many of us make resolutions to adjust our diets and start an exercise program. It's the most common pledge people make but do you realize that our many of our pets need you to make weight loss and exercise a priority for them, too?
The "buddy" system is a great motivator. If you are one of the many people who are going to follow through with a responsible diet and exercise program, consider iincluding your faithful pet!
A recent survey indicates that more than 80 percent of pet owners think their pets are the right weight or underweight. But veterinarians report at least 25 percent of the pets we examine in our private companion animal pet practice are overweight. Think in percentages: 3 extra pounds on a cat can be 30% extra weight and 8 extra pounds on a 40 pound dog is 20% too heavy.
Do you think your cushy tabby cat is just right? Most cats should weigh between 8-10 pounds. Think your dog's wide silhouette is due to fluffy hair? A good rule to follow is that you should be able to feel your pet's ribs with slight fingertip pressure. Looking down from above there should be definition at the waist and when looking from the side there should be an obvious tummy tuck. Maybe a little jiggle in their wiggle but definitely no sway as they walk away!
Just as you should ask your physician before starting a weight loss program, you should also consult your pet's veterinarian. We can suggest food formulations, portion and calorie conrol, snacks and treats that can be used to reach ideal body weight. Once a thorough physical examination eliminates diseases which can predispose to obesity such as thyroid disease and other hormonal imbalances we can work towards our set goal with diet, exercise, and realistic expectations.
Extra weight places extra demands on all of the body's organs. Some of the serious complications of obesity in pets are damage to joints, difficulty breathing, increase stress on heart function, lack of stamina, sugar diabetes, increase risk of joint and muscle injuries, and an overall decreased in the quality and length of your pet's life.
The veterinary health care team at Animal Health Care of Marlboro will recommend a nutrition plan that is tailored to your pet's needs and your schedule. We will advise you on exercises and level or exertion your pet can tolerate. For pets, exercise can be fun time spent with you. Cats and dogs often can use food puzzles to help with portion control and exercise. Multiple sessions of play time and exercise will help ensure a healthier pet. Let us help you and your pet have many happy healthy, active years ahead.