We know the risks of obesity as a human! We hear about eating healthy and exercising just about everywhere! What about our pets? Did you know that over 50% of the dog and cat pet populate is obese! Obesity doesn’t just cause increased risk in humans; it affects our pets too!
- Increased strain one muscles and joints leading to ligament tears/ruptures
- Respiratory disease
- Heat intolerance
- Heart disease
- Urinary disease
- Lower Urinary tract disease (cats)
- Decrease resistance to viral and bacterial infections
How do I know if my 4-legged friend is obese? You can do a “body condition score” at home! Looking down over the top of your pet’s back, they should have an hourglass shape. A side view should have an obvious tuck up into the abdomen after the ribs end. When you rub over the rib cage, with slight pressure you should be able to fill the indentations between the ribs. No hour-glass shape? No tuck up? Unable to feel the rib spaces? Your pet may have too many pounds! Our team at MVVS can confirm your suspicions and discuss the best way for your pet to lose weight. Often diet and activity changes will lead to weight loss! We can determine the number of calories your pet should have in a day and then formulate a diet plan for you to follow. We can discuss ways to increase activity to help your pet lose weight. This new plan is a lifestyle change for the family as well as the pet.
Exercise plans can be formulated based on age and family ability. Here are a few ways to get started:
- Take a walk. Start with 10-15 minutes and work up to 30 minutes gradually over a couple of weeks.
- Play ball/fetch in the yard.
- Schedule regular play dates if your dog has a close 4-legged friend.
We didn’t forget about our cat patients! Cat owners, we know, you are thinking “Yea, right! Get my cat moving? Go ahead and try!” Don’t underestimate your cat! Start slow and of course on their terms! Sometimes you must think like a cat! Some cats enjoy fetch and do it better than a dog!
Laser pointers can get a cat moving but don’t forget to provide a physical toy reward at the end of the exercise time! Have your cat “hunt” for their food by hiding small bowls of food around the house. Some quality bonding and exercise time can involve you tossing the kibble of a meal across the floor for the cat to “catch” and eat.
Many of these activities provide much-needed enrichment and bonding with the human family. Why not look at your schedule to see where you can fit in a little exercise for your pet. We both want your pet to be around for a long time! A healthy weight can ensure that happens!