He's not fat, he's just very fluffy...
We are constantly bombarded by weight loss reality TV programs, weight loss products at the supermarket, and various fitness and gym advertisements. Obesity is an extremely important health problem in Australia, but it doesn’t only affect us humans, it affects our pets too. Over 40% of dogs in Australia are overweight.
So why is a having a chubby cat or dog such a bad thing, they are happy aren’t they? As pet owners, we are 100% responsible for the health and welfare of our pet, they rely on us for shelter, nourishment, and companionship. And while pets munching on treats might be happy and satisfied, the consequences of being overweight certainly don’t equal up to a higher quality of life. Some of the problems obese animals must contend with after enjoying their treats and table scraps include arthritis, breathing problems, diabetes, dental disease, cancer, and definitely a much reduced life span.
So how do our pets get so fat when they don’t seem to eat that much? One might think that weight management would be easier for a pet than for a person, after all we are entirely in charge of their feeding and exercise. While this seems to make sense, sometimes owners do not actually know what their pet is eating (getting children’s leftovers, treats from neighbours, or in the case of roaming cats getting fed by each old lady on the same street), or they may not have a good sense for how much should be fed. Each commercial dog and cat food should have a feeding guide attached to the product, where suggested feeding amounts are often measured in cups – the problem here is that they are referring to an actual measuring cup, not just any mug or coffee cup you may have lying around, as these are often much much bigger. The other problem with feeding guidelines is that there are hundreds of different breeds of dogs, and where a 30kg Border Collie may be obese, a 30kg Greyhound is a lean athlete.
It is also very easy to underestimate the power of treats. Many people express their affection for their pet by providing regular treats, and the pet happily obliges by begging or performing cute tricks. Feeding treats also constitutes a major part of the human animal bond, so people do not wish to give it up or reduce it. Pet treats are also usually very high in calories to make them tasty, and four or five treats readily converts into an extra meal’s worth of fat. For example giving a cat a bowl of milk is equivalent to us eating 4 hamburgers, and a slice of toast for your dog in the morning is the same as you eating half a pizza for breakfast.
What can be done? Diet and exercise is the usual answer, but as most owners of overweight pet may have noticed, simply cutting back on food often doesn’t seem to work. You as the owner feel guilty because your pet is staring at you with hungry eyes, and they may actually start stealing food. A more committed approach is required , with regular weigh-ins, and using an actual weight loss diet instead of a “lite” or “less active” diet, as these are more filling with less calories.
Our mobile vets carry scales with them for easy weight checks, and also do a thorough physical examination each time they assess your pet, and can easily check the products you are feeding your pet at home and give recommendations suited to your family. Call 0448 751 354 Now to make an appointment!