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By Dr. Melody Conklin
Published: February 19, 2014

Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the most important things we can do for our pets. Giving food and treats in controlled and healthy quantities can be difficult, though. Giving our pets treats and seeing their response is a rewarding part of interacting with our pets. Plus, it’s tough to say no to a fuzzy face and a wagging tail! Remember, treating and feeding your pet in moderation, and giving them adequate opportunities for exercise, is something you can do out of love, too. Many pets find play-time and attention just as rewarding as another treat.

Obesity can increase the risk of a number of health problems in pets, as in people. Carrying extra weight increases the strain and wear-and-tear on our pets’ joints, and increases the workload for the heart and lungs. Getting up from lying down, walking,jumping, and breathing are all more difficult for a pet that’s carrying a few (or more!) extra pounds. A small dog or cat carrying 1-2 extra pounds is like a human carrying 30+ extra pounds.

These difficulties can be even more pronounced in brachycephalic dog breeds (short-nosed breeds like Pugs and English Bulldogs). These breeds are more prone to troubles breathing due to the shape and length of their faces/noses, and some congenital issues common in these breeds, including narrow nostrils, and extra tissue in their soft palate (in the back of the throat) that can block efficient airflow. Short-nosed cat breeds (like Persians, Himalayans, and Burmese) can also suffer from these issues.

Obesity increases the risk for orthopedic injuries (including torn cruciate ligaments and back/spinal injuries). It also increases the risk of developing insulin resistance and diabetes mellitus, arthritis and joint pain, high blood pressure, and liver and heart issues. Overweight dogs (especially short-nosed breeds that can’t pant as efficiently) have a harder time cooling off, putting them at an increased risk for heat-stroke, which can be life-threatening. Obesity also increases risks associated with anesthesia.

So, if your veterinary team talks to you about your pet’s weight, and recommends weight loss, it’s out of concern for your pet’s comfort and medical well-being. We want to help you preserve a high quality of life for your dog or cat, and make sure your pet can share a long healthy life with you.
Weight is one of the things we assess at your pet’s annual or semi-annual wellness examination. Based on your pet’s individual needs and lifestyle, we might suggest modifying amounts fed of your pet’s current diet/treats, increasing exercise opportunities, feeding a prescription weight loss/weight management food, or a combination of these tools to help you help your pet enjoy a longer healthier life.

If you are concerned about your pet’s weight, call us today. We are here to help!