Obesity is a major health concern for today’s pets, and successful weight management can save your furry friend’s life. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention pets are increasingly being diagnosed with clinical obesity. A 2017 survey showed that 56% of dogs and 60% of cats were classified as obese or overweight by their veterinarians.
If your dog or cat is overweight, they can develop all kinds of health problems, such as painful arthritis, heart disease, breathing difficulty, diabetes and even certain types of cancer. The biggest obstacle is that most pet owners aren’t sure what their pet’s ideal weight should be and also don’t know how to spot the difference between healthy and obese.
How to tell if your pet is overweight or obese
First, you should be able to easily feel - and count - your pet’s ribs when you lightly run your fingers across the side. Ribs shouldn’t be distinctly visible, but you should easily be able to feel them when you stroke the animal’s side.
Next, when you look down on your pet from above, you should see an hourglass figure or an indentation near the midsection. If your pet’s waistline expands outward, it’s time for a weigh-in at the vet.
Finally, when you observe your pet from the side as it stands, you should see a slight tuck or upward slope of the tummy. If the abdomen hangs low and drags near the ground that indicates the most dangerous and biologically active form of fat - abdominal fat - is present.
• Ribs can’t easily be felt
• No sign of an obvious waist
• Difficulty in walking
• Shortness of breath
• Bad temper
• Sleeping more than usual
How can I help my pet lose weight? Weight problems in pets are common today, and can be successfully managed through changes in nutrition and exercise.
1. Choose the correct food
Balanced nutrition is an essential part of an active, healthy lifestyle. Eating too much pet food, snacks or human food will cause your pets to gain weight. Calibra offers super premium light pet food to maintain a healthy weight and also a veterinarian developed diet for pets with obesity / diabetes issues. According to the standard formula used to calculate the daily caloric needs of pets, an average 22.7kg (50lbs), adult neutered dog typically needs just under 1,000 calories daily. An average 4.5kg (10lbs), adult neutered cat needs around 220 calories each day. The most important decision you make each day about your pet’s health is what you choose to feed them. Choose wisely: your pet’s life depends on it.
2. Get active
Pets need exercise, but it’s tricky in the heat of the UAE’s summer, so you must keep them active indoors.
Easy exercises for dogs
- Basic obedience training
- Teaching your dog to swim
- Play hide and seek
- Running, walking, or biking with your dog - when outdoor temperatures allow, it’s always a treat for your pets to get outside.
- Playing catch - simple game of catch with a ball or Frisbee is a fantastic way
to get your dog to get in their ‘quota of daily steps’.
Easy exercises for cats
- Invest in a cat tower. If your cat doesn’t seem keen to climb, place small treats around the tower until he / she gets used to the idea and enjoys climbing regularly.
- Keep cat toys on hand - make a habit of playing for a few minutes at random times during the day.
- Use a laser pointer / flashlight / wand-style toy to get your cat running around and chasing their ‘prey’.
- Some cat toys allow you to hide treats inside - it takes a lot of play time and energy for them to eventually get to the treat.
To recap, pet owners need to follow the below guidelines to help their pets stay healthy.
• Avoid feeding your pet table scraps
• Monitor the amount of food you give your pet
• Limit treats to 10% of their daily calories
• Engage in regular and adequate exercise.
Remember that your vet should be your first stop for accurate diagnosis and treatment options.