The weighty issue of the portly pet
Overweight pets – a growing trend
Our pets are mirroring the human obesity growth curve, and very overweight cats and dogs are becoming common. As in humans, being overweight can cause many health issues for our pets. These include:
- Arthritis, joint and mobility problems
- Increased frequency of joint injuries
- High blood pressure
- Skin and coat problems
- Urinary disease
- Heart disease
- Shorter lifespan than fitter pets
- Tendency to interact less with their families.
The term obesity is used to describe a condition that is more serious than just being overweight. When a dog or cat is classed as obese, it means that their fat has now reached the stage where their bodies struggle to maintain good health.
In 2018, results of an online survey* suggested that around 59% of dogs and 53% of cats throughout the world are obese. In fact, this rapidly increasing problem is now so significant that the World Small Animal Veterinary Association have officially classed canine obesity as a disease.
But it’s not always obvious to us…
This survey also showed that only 24% of owners thought their pet was overweight. This suggests pet owners not realising that their pet is obese has also become a big part of the problem. When you see your pet every day, and pets around you are slowly getting bigger too, a larger size becomes normal.
Why is obesity becoming more common?
The science behind overweight pets is usually as simple as it is in humans – more often than not a pet is obese because they’re eating more calories than they’re burning off. There are occasions where genetics or other health factors play a part, and some breeds are more likely to gain fat than others. There might also be some medical reasons that are contributing, for example, undiagnosed joint pain restricting their movement, or an underactive thyroid slowing down their metabolism.
Before starting your pet on a diet or increased exercise schedule, you should book a FREE weight clinic check-up with one of us to make sure there aren’t any underlying medical issues.