Obesity in cats and dogs, and how to manage it
Just like their owners, cats and dogs can become obese. Obesity in cats and dogs is classified when they weigh more than 20% of their normal weight. While overweight, a warning sign on the road to obesity, is when they weigh between 10% and 20% of their normal weight. Obesity in cats and dogs is one of the most common disorders based on feeding habits. It often occurs when the food consumed in the diet is higher than their metabolic needs.
Causes of obesity in cats and dogs
As we will discuss later, some medical conditions and genetic diseases can also cause obesity in cats and dogs. But the development of obesity is mainly due to the imbalance between energy intake (food eaten) and expenditure (energy spent). From this point of view, pet obesity is a problem affecting both the owner and the pet. Many pet owners believe that overfeeding their pet is a sign of love, and so overfeeding leads to overweight and obesity.
Obesity in cats
Cats and dogs can suffer from the same conditions that lead to obesity. As we have already discussed, overfeeding can lead to obesity. The other side of the coin is that reduced activity can also cause obesity. In cats, arthritis may make movement painful which will cause your cat to move less, and so gain weight. And just like humans, some cats may be genetically predisposed to gain weight. Heart conditions will also limit the exercise of your cat who can then easily gain weight, due to inactivity. Another medical reason for weight gain is a hormonal imbalance which can affect metabolism and may lead to weight gain.
Obesity in dogs
Obesity in dogs can lead to major health issues, including diabetes, heart disease and arthritis. So maintaining a healthy body weight can benefit your dog’s overall quality of life. Obesity also becomes more common in dogs in old age because of the normal decrease in a dog’s ability to exercise, due to arthritis and other conditions. Other factors that can cause obesity in dogs is hypothyroidism (a hormone imbalance) and neutering.
Treatment for obesity in cats and dogs is similar: gradual weight loss that is sustainable in the long term. This is accomplished by reducing your pet’s energy intake and increasing their activity levels.
- In a weight loss program, you should opt for wet food. Dry food has more calories, flour and sugar than canned wet food; flour and sugar in high amounts are not recommended during a diet. Wet food contains a high percentage of water, which makes your overweight pet full with a lower calorie intake.
- Choose pet food with the appropriate amount of high-quality protein: a cat’s diet should be 30% protein and a high- quality diet will allow you to reduce the amount of food you need to feed your pet.
- Remove your pets free access to food. Instead, feed your pet twice a day or in several small meals throughout the day.
- Finally, increase your pet’s exercise. Cats can be given climbing frames to explore and maintain exercise levels. Obese dogs need regular exercise. Build up their activity level each day, being careful not to overdo it. Walks can be good exercise for both you and your dog.
Petley’s® offers a range of specially formulated pet foods to help keep your furry family member in great health throughout their life. Petley’s® pet food contains real meat, vitamins and minerals, with zero artificial colourants or flavourants.