Understanding the Real Danger of Pet Obesity

Understanding the Real Danger of Pet Obesity

Obesity is a big problem for people and pets. While a little extra pudge may seem cute, extra weight can put our pets at risk for a wide range of serious health issues. And when it comes to our pets, prevention and weight control can lengthen their lives and improve their overall wellbeing.

How Big is the Obesity Problem for American Pets?

In the United States, 60% of cats and 56% of dogs were considered obese or overweight in 2018. Almost 100 million American pets suffer from obesity or being overweight. Obesity isn’t just dangerous for pets, it’s costly for their owners. Nationwide’s 2016 report on pet obesity shows Americans paid about $62 million in veterinary bills for obesity-related conditions.

That’s a lot of overweight pets.

This problem isn’t small by any means. In fact, pet obesity seems to be an epidemic and the biggest health threat to our furry best friends!

How Did Our Pets Get so Chunky?

Even though our understanding of pet’s nutritional needs becomes better and better every year, that information doesn’t seem to stop the growing rates of obesity. Studies show that pet obesity rates have climbed each year since 2009.

Simply put, many pet parents choose to give their beloved, adorable, sweet pets too many calories. The increase in obesity rates may be linked to Americans viewing their lovable furballs as family members and sharing food more frequently with them. Additionally the pattern could be linked to a wider variety of tasty pet treats.

But the fact is, despite obesity being a preventable and serious condition, we see more and more pets each year suffering from clinical obesity.

Why Your Pet’s Weight Matter: Obesity is Painful for Pets and Shortens Their Lives

Obese dogs and cats face greater health risks and complications.

Dogs with Obesity Often Suffer From

  • Arthritis
  • Urinary Tract Disease and Bladder Issues
  • Liver Disease
  • Thyroid Problems
  • Torn Knee Ligaments
  • Diabetes
  • Spinal Issues
  • Kidney Disease
  • Heart Failure
  • High Blood Pressure

Cats with Obesity Often Suffer From

  • Bladder Issues and Urinary Tract Disease
  • Chronic Kidney Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Liver Disease 
  • Arthritis
  • High Blood Pressure 
  • Heart Failure
  • Gall Bladder Disorder
  • Spinal Issues

Additionally, many studies are beginning to show an increased risk of cancer in overweight pets and a decrease in a pet’s life expectancy by up to two years.

How to Tell if Your Pet is Obese

You see your pet almost everyday. This can make it difficult to notice fluctuations in weight. Annual exams can help you figure out if your pet is gaining an unhealthy amount of weight. 

Some common signs that your dog or cat is overweight may include:

  • Not being able to easily feel their ribs
  • Your dog’s tummy is larger than their ribcage or chest.
  • If a cat’s tummy sticks out to the sides or hangs down low
  • They tend to move slower and have more trouble getting around.

How Can You Prevent Your Pet from Becoming Obese or Reduce Your Pet’s Weight?

We’re happy to work with you to make a plan for reducing or maintaining your pet’s weight. The first step is to recognize that your pet is overweight or obese. The next step is to call us. We will help with:

  • Diet
  • Portion control
  • Strategies that help pet parents not overfeed
  • Treats
  • Exercise routine

We can also help monitor your pet’s weight over time. 

Chubby Pets May Be Cute, But Their Body Condition Isn’t

Weight management is an essential part of helping keep your pet healthy. Excess weight can take a toll on your pet’s physical and mental health and shorten their life. Luckily, weight control isn’t complicated. If you have questions about your pet’s health or weight, give us a call.

Image credit: fongleon356 | iStock | Getty Images Plus

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