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Why the fuss about obesity in dogs and cats?

Why the fuss about obesity in dogs and cats?

Obesity plays a tremendous role in the quality of life of your pet

Negative effects

  • Increased weight increases the burden on your pet’s muscles and bones. This can cause arthritis, cruciate ligament disease and disc disease.
  • Excess fat can put pressure on the trachea causing tracheal collapse.
  • Too much insulation causes difficulty in cooling down the body, resulting in overheating.
  • Obese pets face an increased risk of developing conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and liver disese — especially in cats.
  • The leading cause of illness due to being obese is due to a chronic state of inflammation. Fat cells (adipocytes) secrete substances in the body that encourage inflammation. These substances are called “pro-inflammatory adipokines”. The more fat cells there are, the more of these “adipokines” are secreted which drives the body into a chronic state of inflammation. This inflammation mostly manifests in joint pain or osteoarthritis, which initiates a vicious cycle: An increase in joint pain results in less mobility, and less mobility results in less energy expenditure. Less energy expenditure results in more weight gain and more weight gain results in more fat cells, which again, releases more inflammatory substances… and the cycle goes on and on!

How to prevent obesity

Quite simply, increase exercise and limit extra food intake from scraps from the table and treats. Feed good quality food and stick to the recommended daily amount as indicated on the product label or as prescribed by your veterinarian. Ask your vet/staff for recommendations of good quality food.

How to help your pet lose weight

It is possible to bring down your pet’s weight to an ideal level if they are overweight, but as pet owner, you need to be committed to strictly following the guideline as to the amount and type of food to be fed. A full clinical exam by your veterinarian is essential in order to detect any underlying diseases. These may need to be treated to help your pet lose weight.

There are many diets specifically formulated to help your pet lose weight. Your veterinarian will prescribe the most suitable diet for your pet. You can also enrol your pet in a weight loss program; ask for recommendations from your vet!

How do I know whether my pet is obese?

There are a few basic points to look at:

  • You have to be able to feel the ribs without pressing too hard, but you should not be able to see the individual ribs from a distance.
  • There should be a clear waistline present when looking from the top. You should easily be able to discern where the ribcage ends and the abdomen starts.
  • When looking from the side, you should be able to see the same as above, in other words, “the abdomen should be tucked in”.

If you are concerned about your pet’s weight, the best is to make an appointment with your vet so that your pet can get a proper evaluation.

Tips to keep them in shape

As mentioned before, daily exercise is important. Different breeds have different exercise requirements, so find out what the requirement is for yours.  For cats, try to engage in more play time and encourage them to search for food instead of getting it all in a food bowl.

Ask us for a personalised exercise recommendation. Your pet may be old, suffer from existing conditions such as arthritis, been recently neutered etc. and all these factors are taken into account when a diet and exercise plan is chosen. Be sure to feed strictly as instructed.

Ideas for healthy treats

There are low calorie treats available. Ask our friendly reception staff to point them out next time you visit.There are also a few treats at home that dogs like, and which are healthy, these include carrots, apples (without the seeds), green beans and even popcorn (made without oil or fat). But all treats should be given in moderation. No more than a teaspoon twice a day of treat food should be given. Please note that some food such as grapes and avocado are poisonous to dogs, so if in doubt, give us a call before giving it to your pet.

Pet owners’ responsibility

As pet owners we have the responsibility to look after our pets’ weight. They are fed from our hands and thus we have the control over their daily intake. Let us do this responsibly, so that our dearest companions may live a life of quality. A healthy weight equals less pain and discomfort and more mobility and engagement with us. Ultimately, that special bond between us and our furry companions will be preserved!





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