Welcome to The Animal Hospital of Lynchburg's pet obesity web page! Here you will find information about canine and feline obesity, products, services and links to other pet obesity sites. Some of the most recent estimates of the pet population put canine and feline obesity at at rate of 85% or higher. Read on to find out if your pet fits in this category, and what you can do to help you pet lose weight and have a happier and healthier lifestyle!
Several studies have been done on pet obesity and its effect on life expectancy. In a groundbreaking 14 year study by Purina, researchers showed that dogs fed to an ideal body condition throughout their lives had a median (average) lifespan of 1.8 years longer - and were considerably healthier - than their littermates. Although the dogs in the study generally developed the same chronic conditions as they aged, treatment for those conditions was delayed approximately two years for the lean-fed dogs. Although there has been no similar study done to date on cats, we expect that the results would be very similar.
More specifically, some of the problems expected to occur in overweight and obese pets include: Higher incidence of slipped disc/back problems, higher likelihood of orthopedic problems including hip dysplasia and cruciate ligament (knee) damage, more difficulty breathing and a higher risk of tracheal collapse, higher incidence of heart disease, higher incidence of diabetes, more likely to suffer from heat stroke, more difficulty giving birth if unspayed, higher incidence of skin fold infections, higher likelihood of anal gland impaction and abscesses, as well as increased risks associated with anesthesia.
HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?
As with people, your pet is best judged overweight not just by its pounds, but by its percentage over what is considered a healthy weight. As a general rule of thumb, your pet can be considered overweight if it is 10-15% above its ideal weight, and obese if it is 20-25% over its ideal weight. This means that a 10 lbs dog is approaching obesity at only 12 lbs. A 50 lbs dog is approaching obesity at 60 lbs.
The best way to judge your pets proper weight is by body condition scoring...place your hands over your pets rib cage. Do the ribs seem covered by lots of flesh? Is it hard to even feel them? Is your dog lacking a "waist" when viewed from above? If you answered yes to any of these questions, your dog may be overweight or obese.
CAUSES OF OBESITY
At The Animal Hospital of Lynchburg, over 95% of the dogs and cats that are overweight are so because of overfeeding. Of that 95%, 50% or more of those pets are getting fed "free-choice" with no restriction on the amount that they are allowed to consume. Fewer than 5% of the pets we see as overweight are secondary to medical conditions such as Hypothyroidism. A simple blood test can determine if this is a factor.
A lack of exercise can be another factor in canine and feline weight gain. Cats can be encouraged to play "chase" with toys, dogs can go on frequent walks or retrieve balls and Frisbees. Keep in mind that the exercise is a great addition to any healthy pet program, but weight loss from exercise alone (without calorie restriction) is often unrewarding.
HOW TO CORRECT THE PROBLEM
Since the major reason for our pets to be overweight is a lack of calorie restriction, fixed portions is the first step in resolving the weight problem. Just as "Weight Watchers" for people will plan the amount of calories a person receives in a 24 hours period, we can do the same for our pets. We at The Animal Hospital of Lynchburg have several ways of determining the correct calorie requirements for your pet, and of determining the proper amount of any diet to be fed. A few extra pounds can have serious health implications, including a reduced life expectancy.
HOW ELSE CAN WE HELP?
With some pets, calorie restriction may just not be enough. If your pet falls into this category, we have just the diet food to do the trick. Royal Canin Satiety Support. With both high protein and a special blend of fibers, Satiety Support is scientifically proven to keep pets feeling full and reduce begging so they can safely and successfully lose weight.