Pet Obesity in Cats and Dogs
By: Tamara Kees
Just like us, pet obesity in cats and dogs is often caused by taking in more calories than one is burning in their daily activity. Pet obesity can be a serious problem for your pets. And, just like us, obesity in dogs and cats is extremely common and leads to many health issues and diseases that can drastically reduce quality of life and shorten the lifespan. Some things that can be negatively affected by excess fat and weight on a pet are the bones and joints, the lungs and airway, the liver, the heart and blood vessels, and the thermoregulation system (the pet’s ability to cool themselves down when they’re hot). Some diseases that can result from obesity include diabetes, heart disease, low immune system function, increased risk for cancer, and lameness from osteoarthritis.
There are occasional causes of obesity that are not solely from overnutrition
They include hypothyroidism, insulinoma (a tumor on the pancreas), Cushing’s disease (an overactive adrenal gland), and lowering of metabolic function after neutering/spaying. These conditions can be ruled out with examination and sometimes testing with your veterinarian.
When patients are only obese because of overnutrition and underactivity, the solution is very straightforward—increase exercise and decrease calorie intake. Getting our pets to follow the regimen is often far easier than getting our families and ourselves to, however—
Here are some tricks that may help:
- Laser pointers and new toys
- More playtime, which pets love!
- Supplementing normal treats with melon, air popped, unseasoned popcorn, and vegetables (just no onions or avocados!)
- Self-throwing tennis ball robot toy for dogs
- Decrease food intake to suit your pet’s ideal weight (usually listed on the bag/can), and feed ½ that amount twice a day instead of leaving a bowl out
- More walks
- Give praise and belly rubs more than treats!