Did you know that 54% of dogs and cats in the United States are considered overweight or obese? That’s 43 million dogs and 50 million cats! Or that one large Milkbone dog treat has almost as many calories as ½ cup of vanilla ice cream?
Obesity in our pet population is becoming an epidemic. As we have moved cats indoors to keep them safe from cars, other animals and other people, they are living longer lives. Unfortunately, that longer lifespan is not always a healthier life. As people also spend more time indoors, so do their dogs. Overweight and obese cats and dogs are at higher risk for developing many health problems – many of which are preventable. The diseases that overweight pets can develop include:
- joint problems (osteoarthritis)
- insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes mellitus
- high blood pressure
- heart and respiratory disease
- decreased stamina
- cranial cruciate ligament injury
- kidney disease
- skin diseases associated with trouble grooming and skin folds
- many forms of cancer.
What may be surprising is that overweight and obese animals have a decreased life expectancy of up to 2.5 yearscompared to other animals of ideal weight! Additionally, overweight cats are more at risk for developing a life-threatening liver disease called hepatic lipidosis if they ever stop eating for any reason for 2-3 days.
We at Southside Animal Hospital are committed to helping to slow the spread of the obesity epidemic in our pets. Prevention is the best way to combat this disease. Monitoring weight, ensuring your pet receives plenty of exercise, and feeding appropriate amounts for your pet’s age, spay/neuter status and activity level are all important components to a weight management plan. Please contact us today to set up a weight management consultation with one of our veterinarians. We want your best friends to live as long and as healthy a life as possible. Helping your pet maintain a healthy weight is essential to meeting that goal!
Drs. Flanagan, Winkler and White
References: Association for Pet Obesity Prevention