The Dangerous of Pet Obesity
Written By Dr. Gary Holfinger
It's a problem for humans and pets alike; we're all getting too heavy. Pets are no longer just overweight; now we're actually seeing medically obese animals whose quality of life suffers.
Part of the problem is our inability to recognize when a pet is overweight. Body shapes and haircoats vary with the different breeds, and for many owners a bigger pet is thought to be normal. Yet, for many breeds the desired weight is much less than the owner expects. For example, a female Labrador Retriever should be 55 to 70 pounds, and a toy Poodle should be about 6 pounds.
Just like in their owners, pets suffer over time from carrying too much weight. We often see dogs who have a hard time getting up, or taking one or two steps to go outside. The changes of age, especially arthritis, create both discomfort and a lack of activity. The process feeds on itself; overweight pets not only gain weight due to less exercise, but also tend to seem hungrier. Unlike humans, they don't understand the need to control diet.
Diet control is especially important. As we all age, our metabolic activity slows down, and the same amount of food adds fat rather than being burned off through activity. It's important, therefore, that we recognize that older pets have less caloric needs, and reduce the meal size to compensate. Geriatric or weight-loss diets are designed to reduce the calories eaten while keeping the volume more constant.
Nobody likes to be heavy, and most of us have a hard time taking pounds off. Be proactive, and watch your pet's weight closely as it ages. As we all know, it’s difficult to get back in shape once we've let ourselves go!