Watch Tip: Obesity in Pets

Posted on February 18th, 2011 by Anna Nirva

Watch Tip LogoWatch Tip for week of Feb. 20:

Watch for overweight and obese cats and dogs; obesity in pets is common in developed countries. Pets can develop arthritis and heart disease in addition to frequent digestive and intestinal upsets. For extremely obese animals, owners can even be prosecuted for animal cruelty.

Pets often “train” their owners to overfeed

Cats and dogs can become excellent manipulators of their people! By pleading for more food and treats, they can train their unwitting owners to overfeed, just to quiet them. Over time, the pets can become overweight and even obese. Sometimes pets will become “picky” about food, encouraging the owner to provide more and tastier food choices. In some households, one person might secretly feed an overweight pet, to earn more affection and attention from the pet. In any of these situations, the cat or dog looks so very cute in the act of charming their people to produce food. Who can resist?

One begging dog in Wisconsin, Jiffy, a Border Collie, was overfed to the point that he fell down while outdoors one winter night and could not rise. He froze to the sidewalk. He survived and today, Jiffy has slimmed down and is becoming healthy again, in his new home. But his owner was prosecuted for animal cruelty and the judge ordered Jiffy removed from her custody.

While some pets may have underlying medical issues that influence weight gains, in the majority of cases, the calories ingested simply outnumber the calories metabolized. Some pets should not ever be allowed continuous access to food, especially compulsive eaters.

Contrary to popular opinion, castration surgery does not in itself cause weight gain. However, the dog or cat often becomes less active and more relaxed, requiring fewer calories for weight maintenance. They should ingest fewer calories after surgery as a general rule. Find ranges of ideal weights by breed of dog and cat here.

Veterinarians can provide excellent guidance on diet plans for overweight pets, but be aware that some recommended “diet” kibbles might provide too many carbohydrates in the diet, causing rises in insulin levels in the blood. Over time, some pets can develop diabetes, just like humans.

Read more about pet obesity here.

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