Overweight and animal obesity have become major concerns for the veterinary sector, and this concern has only increased in recent years. The Australian Veterinary Association reports overweight or animal obesity rates of 41%. Canada does not escape with rates exceeding 50%, nor the United States with rates above 56%.
This means that more than half of our companions would benefit from losing weight! It also means that half of our pets do not enjoy optimal health and their lives are threatened by a condition that can be prevented and can also be addressed.
Obesity is shortening life, and we know what risks our obese animals face.
Overweight animals have a lower quality of life and life expectancy shortened by problems such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, etc. In addition, all these animals present risks of operative and postoperative complications that surpass those of their peers of adequate weight.
Dogs have more weight problems than cats, females are more exposed than males, and older animals are more susceptible than young.
Another finding, the excess weight of the animal is often correlated with a surplus of weight of the owners. Lack of exercise seems to be the reason for this correlation.
A majority of pet owners feed their animals too much, usually neglecting to follow the recommendations on the feeding bags or forgetting the dietary advice of their veterinarian. Food at will, ie a diet that allows the animal to eat when it wants and in the quantity it desires leads to overconsumption of calories. The treats also contribute to the daily calorie intake of your pet and it is imperative to know the impact. Same thing for the table rejections which will increase considerably, according to their quantity and their nature, the sum of calories that will receive your companion.
It is possible to feed our animals with food for us humans. Still, we must know what can be offered and the quantities to serve. In addition, you must know the foods that could be harmful to your pet, or downright toxic for the latter. In this respect, let us recall, for example, the toxicity of grapes and chocolate.
Let’s take a look at the calorie needs of our companions who live inside and who do half an hour of activity during the day. (The equivalent of a brisk 30-minute walk.)
10 pounds 180 to 200 calories
10 pounds 200 to 275 calories
20 lb. 325 to 400 calories
50 pounds 700 to 900 calories
These caloric requirements are calculated for sterilized animals. Intact animals with higher caloric requirements.
Your pet’s energy needs may differ depending on race, genetics, lifestyle, level of physical activity, etc. It is therefore important to discuss all of this with your veterinarian to adjust your diet and develop an exercise program that is right for you.
Regular exercise is also very important for your pet to maintain optimal weight. Your dog should be active 20 minutes, three times a day minimally. A variety of exercises will do the trick: a brisk walk, a jog, swimming, a little frisbee? Cats should have 2 activity periods of 20 minutes a day. Using a laser pointer to stimulate your cat’s activity could satisfy his needs.
An animal with ideal weight will have easily palpable ribs. Moreover, when one looks at it while standing over him, his silhouette passed the ribs will curve inward. The abdomen will also be pulled inwards between these ribs and its hind limbs. A hanging abdomen is a sign of overweight. Ask your vet for an assessment of your pet’s body condition score, the equivalent of the body mass index on the human side.
In summary, keeping your pet lean and fit can hope for a longer life, more active, happier and healthier for the one who is for you, a faithful companion. Obesity is a big problem that can be easily avoided or managed. Do not hesitate to consult your veterinarian about the health and weight of your pet. He will be able to produce a plan that will be suitable for your pet to keep him healthy and happy.