Now that the snow seems to be finally disappearing and the leaves are making their way onto the trees, it’s much easier now to get out and enjoy the weather with our canine friends than it has been over the last six months. Although an indoor cat’s lifestyle isn’t quite as adaptable to increased exercise as it is in dogs, now is the perfect time to try to rid your furry friends of the winter weight that has accumulated.
A large number of pets are either overweight or obese. Similar to what is seen in human medicine, overweightness and obesity in pets comes with many significant health risks. This includes the increased prevalence of orthopedic (bone) disease, both those induced by trauma and also as a result of degeneration. Although exercise can be an important part of weight loss, starting slow and increasing exercise gradually can limit the potential of traumatic bone and muscle problems.
Several other effects of overweightness and obesity include increased prevalence of heart disease, diabetes and cancer, as well as a decreased life expectancy. This is just a small list and by no means includes all the diseases and conditions that are made worse by being overweight.
So how do you plan to achieve appropriate weight loss for your pet? Slow and steady wins the race, and it will often require up to a year or more to regain an optimal body condition after spending years carrying extra weight. During this time, regular weigh-ins and feed adjustments will need to be done to keep your pet losing a steady amount of weight.
One of the most important factors for achieving weight loss is determining the appropriate number of calories your pet needs to consume. Eliminating all high fat, high sugar, high protein treats is recommended. Although it may not see like it, treats can contribute a significant amount of calories that will limit weight loss. If treats must be given, replacing the current ones with vegetables such as raw carrots, broccoli, or green beans is often helpful.
The food your pet is currently eating may also need to be changed. Switching to a lower calorie per cup food that still provides all the essential nutrients to maintain or encourage a high metabolism is often recommended. Veterinary clinics carry several different lower calorie and weight loss foods and can answer any questions you have regarding these diets.
Whether your pet is significantly overweight, or just needs to lose a bit, don’t hesitate to ask your veterinarian about the best way to achieve weight loss. A healthy weight promotes a healthy lifestyle, and who doesn’t want live a long, happy, healthy life?
Dr. Corinna Jensen was born and raised in the Fort St. John Community and discovered her passion for veterinary medicine at an early age. In June 2015 she completed her dream of becoming a veterinarian and graduated from The Western College of Veterinary Medicine. She is excited and enthusiastic about joining the veterinary team as a mixed animal practitioner with special interests in beef cattle and small animal medicine and surgery.