Taming Obesity in Pets: A Pound of Prevention
According to statistics from the Association For Pet Obesity Prevention, at least 56% of all dogs and 60% of all cats are obese. Veterinarians use a body condition score to determine if a cat or dog is overweight.
A domestic animal has pet obesity if the BCS is between 6-7, and obese if the score is between 8-9. More than 50 million dogs and 56 million cats are in an unhealthy weight range according to a recent survey from dog and cat food manufacturers.
Risk Factors for Obese Animals
Cats and dogs have a higher risk of developing health problems if obese than animals that are within a healthy weight range. Dogs and cats can develop many of the same life-threatening conditions as people including arthritis, cancer, hypertension, diabetes, and kidney disease.
Another condition that veterinarians associate with pet obesity in dogs and cats is inflammation, a painful medical condition. Inflammation can cause stiffness in joints, limping, and pain when walking. Swelling and redness around areas with inflammation are common.
Questions for Veterinary Technicians
It’s essential to discuss pet obesity with your veterinary technician because it can add years to the lives of pets and provide them with a better quality of life. Here are the questions everyone should ask during an examination.
- Is my dog or cat obese?
- How many calories should be fed daily?
- How much weight should pets lose in one month?
- What type of exercise should pets get?
- Is there a risk for health problems?
Many owners ask how much they should feed their pets, however the real issue is the number of calories that should be consumed each day to prevent pet obesity. The amount to feed is determined by the amount of daily exercise, size, and breed of the animal, and how many treats they consume.
Developing a Weight Loss Plan
A weight loss plan for pets takes time. Crash diets are never healthy for people or animals. If a cat or dog loses too much weight quickly, severe and life-threatening conditions may develop, including liver failure which can happen in less than three days.
Pet obesity can be managed with a weight loss plan. A weight loss plan for dogs can be accomplished in three to six months and for cats, nine to twelve months. Starting a weight-loss program isn’t easy, but it can save a pet’s life. Food is gradually and safely decreased, the cravings and begging can diminish. A dog can safely lose 1-3% of its body weight in one month, and cats can lose between 0.5-2% percent each month.
Increasing Exercise to Combat Pet Obesity
The exercise any pet gets each day is determined by factors including the age, breed, gender, and species. The cat or dog’s current physical condition may be one of the most significant factors in the type of exercise a veterinary technician recommends. Cats should have at least three intense periods of play for at least five minutes, each day. Dogs should have at least 30 minutes of exercise either through play or brisk walks. High-tech toys are excellent for engaging cats, but some of them like to bat at objects like a feather duster as well as toys.
Dogs and cats that are overweight run the risk of developing health problems. Proper nutrition and a healthy weight is essential for any pet. Disease prevention should be the focus for pet owners. Learning risk factors and ways to prevent disease can give any pet a healthier, happier life.
The Best Foods to Control Weight
Dogs and cats have different nutritional needs at various life stages in the same way that people do. Pets who are starting to gain excess weight should be examined by a veterinarian to ensure that there aren’t any underlying factors.
When health problems have ruled out, there are steps that owners can take to ensure their pets get back to a reasonable weight. Increasing the amount of play and exercise time by a few minutes each day can help to get pets healthier.
Cutting down on food and treats can help them to lose the excess weight. Most food that is healthy for people isn’t healthy or safe for pets. Cut out the table scraps to make sure that the pet is getting a nutritious diet.
Puppies grow rapidly, have a lot of energy, and need foods that are high in protein. Natural, grain-free foods with antioxidants are good choices for puppies. For adult dogs with weight problems, natural foods that are low in carbohydrates are an excellent choice.
Special Diets for Cats
Some cats are sensitive to foods that contain grains. If a cat has weight problems, one of the best solutions may be grain-free, dry food. Since some cats that are overweight or aging sometimes have joint issues, foods that contain Chondroitin and Glucosamine may be helpful. Wet foods can be beneficial in getting a cat back to its proper weight.
Veterinary technicians can devise customized exercise plans in conjunction with diets that are specifically for overweight pets. Getting pets down to their average weight should be achieved slowly and be carefully monitored by a veterinarian. Walks and extra play periods should be rewards instead of treats.
Recommendations for Treats
A lot of commercial treats for dogs and cats contain ingredients that have a lot of calories. Fresh fruits and vegetables are a great alternative for dogs. Not all veggies and fruits are safe for pets, and some are toxic. Green beans and carrots are good for dogs. Carrots have a sweet taste that dogs like as snacks. Apples (de-seeded and cored), and raspberries are excellent sources of fiber. Never give dogs garlic, onions, grapes, or raisins. They can be lethal. Broccoli florets, frozen corn, peas, and catnip are all satisfying cat treats. Cats also like bits of cooked fish and meat.
Getting Overweight Pets to A Normal BCS
The best way to avoid having a dog or cat develop serious health problems is not to let them become obese in the first place. Daily exercise and play, and foods that provide the right combination of vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids can help pets stay happy and healthy.
Did learning about pet obesity interest you about doing more to help animals? Ready to start a program to become a veterinary technician? With an associate degree in veterinary technology, you’ll gain the knowledge and skills you need to start an entry-level career as a veterinary technician. Broadview University has been part of the community for more than 40 years, so we’ve developed connections that can help move your career forward. After completing our accredited degree program, you’ll be eligible to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). Passing the VTNE allows you to become a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT), a designation that will give you a competitive advantage when you enter the job market.
Contact us today to learn more about becoming a veterinary technician and working in veterinary technology.
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