Getting your pet in shape!
Many of us look at this month as getting fitter and perhaps losing a little weight, but have you considered your pet’s fitness and weight too? Just like us, the weight can creep up on them and left unchecked, out pets can become overweight. This blog looks at the effect on our pets and what we can do to help them reach an ideal weight.
So what does having an overweight pet mean?
If your pet is carrying too many pounds, the health implications on them are much the same as in humans. Whereas we can take steps to help ourselves, our pets rely on us to help keep them in shape. An overweight pet can be at risk of:
Plus, because the heart will have to work harder to pump blood around the body, it can also be under strain.
In fact, having an overweight pet can even shorten their lifespan.
Can my pet really get those things from being overweight?
Yes, they can! Taking each one logically it makes sense...
Joint and muscle pain- trying to move any item (even a living one) is harder if it is heavy. The energy needed will be much greater, so this puts a strain on the joints and muscles of the animal, and they can tend to want to exercise less. This is also a vicious circle, as they can have pain in the joints, and be reluctant to go for a walk for example - and then they won’t burn calories which is much needed.
Diabetes - as in humans, this is one of the diseases where having too much weight can lead pets pre-disposed to it. The excess fat in the body can lead to insulin resistance causing diabetes symptoms.
Breathing problems- getting out of breath because of the extra energy needed to move excess weight is a common problem. It can be made worse in some breeds of animals with very short noses as the airways can be even more compromised.
Overweight pets can find it difficult to reach all the places they’d like to groom - through discomfort in moving or, in extreme cases, being too obese to bend themselves around. This means coats can become unkempt and skin infections can arise from soreness.
Pets that need to undergo procedures in practice where anaesthetic is required are at a higher risk of complications if overweight. Many anaesthetic agents are fat soluble meaning a more considerable amount can be absorbed into the body - and the pet could be anaesthetised longer than average. Recovery can also be prolonged as the body has to rid itself of the anaesthetic agent.
While all this is going on the heart is working overtime to make sure everywhere gets enough blood and oxygen.
What can we do to help our pets?
Like anyone wanting to lose weight, eating a good diet and getting exercise is the key. This is where we can help! We can weigh your pet and take into account all the factors that will help us settle on a final ideal weight. All pets are different, but we have excellent guidelines for each breed, so helping your pet with a target weight is the first step.
We can then look at their diet and feeding regime - the diet they are on may not meet their nutritional needs, so they don’t feel ‘full up’ and will always look for more food - and the calories, if you give in, can add up. Bear in mind, there are other reasons your pet may still seem hungry, so if this sounds like your pet, please make an appointment to see us.
We can provide diets to control the pet’s metabolism, reducing hunger pangs, and have qualified staff to measure their weight and body condition on a regular basis. We can even design a specific tailor-made weight loss programme for each pet, and give any other support and advice you need to help your pet reach their ideal weight.
All this can take time, but will also help give them a happier quality of life, and can even lengthen their lifespan.
So, in conclusion, keeping an eye on the treats, having a good diet and exercise, can help pets live a fuller life. Please speak to us about how we can help and support you with your pet - and if you are concerned they are a fussy eater and underweight - then we are happy to speak about that as well!