There is a picture in one of our exam rooms of a rather large cat. Children, especially, are amused by the sleek black and white cat dominating the tiny scale underneath him. Often times when I am working in that particular room, I am reminded of the cultural swing towards large fluffy animals. I have come accustomed to hearing "he's just so fluffy,” or “she’s still carrying her winter weight.” Social media and advertising companies have taught us that a happy pet is a plump cat or a rolly polly puppy. It’s no wonder when we start to talk about waistlines and tucked tummies our pet owners start to squirm in their chairs.
So is there any real harm carrying around those few extra pounds? There definitely can be. The extra weight could make them more prone to injury or worsen an already existing problem. In older cats and dogs, the extra weight could also cause arthritis to progress faster. Aside from joint issues, obesity can also lead to serious medical conditions such as diabetes. These pets are also more likely to overheat faster or have more difficultly breathing in warmer weather or after extensive exercise. Most importantly those extra pounds could result in a shorter lifespan.
How can we help them drop the pounds? Good ole diet and exercise! Start by monitoring their daily calories. Keep a mental track of how many extra calories they are getting from treats and table scraps. For most cats, it is better to meal feed them two-three times a day versus letting a bowl of food sit out for them. It is very easy to overfed our pets. Take another look at what the recommended amount of food is for your pet.
A lot times, adjusting their diet is enough to help reduce their weight. If it’s not enough, find activities that you enjoy doing with your pet to get them more active. Take your pooch to the local dog park. Not park friendly? Walking and swimming are both low impact exercises. Cats can be a bit more tricky to engage. If they like certain toys, try getting them to fetch the toys going up and down the stairs. Or use a laser light for them to follow up and down the stairs. For both cats and dogs, you can hide their food to get them active and moving. There are also several types food puzzles and dishes that the pet has to play with to get the food out.
Helping your pet stay sleek and trim can really pay off in the long run. It may take some time and a little bit of effort, but keep with it! If you have any questions along the way, please feel free to contact us. We can help you out with things like how many calories your pet should be eating or how gradual the weight loss should be. If your pet is loosing weight and you have not changed their diet or amount of exercise, please let us know as well. It could be an indication of more serious medical condition.
A healthy weight can help make your pet’s life happier and is very much worth the effort. So from one fat cat to another, good luck!