Veterinarians are fighting a losing battle against obesity in pets worldwide. Obesity in dogs and cats is one of the leading contributors to reduced lifespan, accelerated arthritis, discomfort and pain, and systemic disorders such as diabetes and heart failure in dogs and cats.

Pet owners will often either immediately dismiss the news that their pet is overweight or receive it poorly. Veterinarians only mean to help extend your pet’s life and make it healthier by pointing out weight issues.

Owners often put the excessive pounds their pet is carrying down to the pets having been sterilised, fussy eating habits or poor metabolism. The truth is that most cases of obesity are owner induced due to  incorrect feeding and over treating.

Reasons to keep your pet slim?

  • A 5 % increase in weight (1/2 kg per 10kg) will increase joint pain by 10x!!!
  • Obesity increases the risk of contracting heart disease and diabetes
  • Overweight pets struggle to exercise without pain and discomfort
  • Obese pets are more prone to heat stroke
  • Overweight pets are at a higher risk of soft tissue injury and will take longer to heal from them
  • Overweight pets are at a much higher risk under anaesthetic
  • Overweight cats are at much higher risk of developing liver issues even with mild sickness

How do you know if your pet is overweight?

  • Bring your pet in for a free weight check at Oribi Animal Clinic
  • Pets should only have a thin fat layer (this is breed specific)
  • When looking from above, your pet should have an obvious waist line
  • Speak to your veterinarian about your pets ideal weight

What can you do to slim your pet down?

  • Do not over exercise! Many owners, when told their pet is overweight, want to increase activity levels. Unfortunately if your pet is overweight, extra exercise will damage their joints and they risk injury.
  • Weight loss should be gradual and be centred around food intake.
  • Weigh out your pets food based on the recommended feeding guide on the back of the bag. Never give less than the recommended amount as your pet will then not be receiving the necessary vitamins and minerals.
  • Feed an age appropriate diet (puppy food for puppies, adult for adults and senior for older pets).
  • REDUCE ALL TREATS! We don’t often realise that the treats we give and the amount we give add up quickly. Rather keep some of your pet’s normal food (from the allotted daily amount) and treat with this
  • Place your pet on a weight management food. Speak to your vet about the right one for your pet. Oribi Animal Clinic, together with Hills, runs a free weight loss programme! You receive discount, are legible for prizes and receive frequent feedback and encouragement.

Often weight loss in pets is about owner discipline and not giving into those puppy dog eyes! We promise that once your pet reaches an ideal weight, they will be happier, healthier and live longer. You won’t regret it!

Written by Dr. Eve Pearse & Dr. Kathleen Davis