15 May Managing obesity. Advice from a Mascot Vet
The ‘obesity epidemic’ affecting people is now affecting our pets too. A combination of overindulgence, a plethora of high energy and fat treats and a lack of exercise is a recipe for overweight animals. While cats seem better able to maintain a lean body condition than dogs, obesity is getting more common in our feline friends as well.
Obesity can impair both the quality and quantity of life and our pets rely on us solely to manage their body condition.
Consequences of obesity
Excess body fat causes metabolic changes similar to people. Insulin-dependent diabetes, osteoarthritis, cancer, heart disease and kidney problems are all more common in pets who are classified as obese.
You should be able to feel each rib on the side of the chest with a little fat covering it. Effectively the body wall should feel like the back of your knuckles on an opened hand. From above, most breeds of dogs and cats should have a ‘waist’ that’s easy to see if they’re in a healthy weight range. Your veterinarian can assess the body condition of your pet and assist in diagnosis obesity.
Treating and managing obesity
Just like with people, excluding a medical cause of obesity (such as a hormonal problem) is important. Once this is ruled out, a ‘calories in, calories out’ logic should apply. Feed a lower fat and calorie diet such as Royal Canin Obesity Management. Increasing the number of meals per day while reducing the quantity will help speed up the metabolism.
Never fast your cat for more than 12 hours as they are grazers and liver problems can ensue if food is withheld any longer.
Treating obesity should be a long-term goal as it’s unrealistic to reverse the condition in a couple of months; rather aim for improvement in body condition over a 6 month period.