Obesity in Animals

Obesity in Animals

Rising levels of obesity in animals has been a hot topic in recent years, with charities such as the PDSA saying that obese pets have a reduced quality of life and are less willing to play and exercise. Catrin Sanderson BVM&S MRCVS from Severn Edge Veterinary Group in Bridgnorth supported this claim “As a vet, I’ve seen first-hand the rise in obesity in pets and the impact it has on their health and well-being”.

Sanderson went on to say “It’s sometimes easy for society to blame the owner when they see an overweight cat or dog, but the truth of the matter is less black and white. Weight gain is often gradual, happening over a span of months or years. These small changes in body weight are hard to visually detect and it often takes a friend, family member or vet to highlight the issue before the owner realises themselves”

The cause of animal obesity is usually straightforward; excessive intake of calories and lack of exercise.   Some commercial foods can be very calorie dense as this makes them more tasty (by adding fat) so even a small portion can still be too many calories. It can be very confusing knowing what food to choose so if in doubt speak to the manufacturer or to your local veterinary practice. Having said that, there are medical conditions that can cause weight gain, such as Thyroid problems and Cushing’s disease so if your pet does not lose weight despite your best efforts, then seek some further advice.

Obesity in animals can cause a number of long term health issues such as diabetes, arthritis and heart, lung and liver issues. As a result, it’s important to nip obesity in the bud and have a plan to help your pet lose weight.

The usual advice is to increase your pets exercise and reduce their food intake as a first step. It’s also possible to have a specialised veterinary diet which is designed to enable weight loss. As a last resort, there are drugs available which block fat from being stored, but these are usually only used in refractory cases or when weight loss is urgent, for instance surgery.

As always, the best way to keep your pet at a healthy weight is by pro-actively managing their diet and having an appropriate exercise regime in place before obesity becomes a problem.