Obesity is as common in our 4-legged friends as it is in the human population. Common causes of obesity are inadequate exercise and excessive daily caloric intake. In some cases, health conditions may result in obesity (i.e. hypothyroidism in dogs)
Most dogs and cats are binge eaters. They eat as much as is offered, when it is offered, because they (instinctually) don't know when their next meal may come. Of course, pets that live in our homes will always get their next meal at a specific time, but they don't know that, only we do. If you feed your pet too much food with each meal, it will gain weight. As dogs and cats age, their metabolic rate slows down, as does their activity level, which means they need fewer calories each day. If we don't adjust the amount fed, then the pet will gain weight. Spaying and neutering also decreases the pet's metabolic rate and so may also result in weight gain if activity levels are not maintained. Feeding table scraps on top of their regular daily amount of dog or cat food also adds additional calories.
There are numerous ways to effect weight loss in your pet if your veterinarian tells you that it is needed. First switch your pet to a lower calorie or weight loss pet food. There are numerous senior or weight loss diets available, but in many cases the calorie reduction is not adequate, so a prescription weight loss diet will be needed. Increase the pet's activity level-i.e. take more walks or buy a Chuck-it or Frisbee. Increasing your own activity level, is also good for your health! If your pet is a cat, buy a laser pointer or a feather toy, or provide multiple perches up by the windows that encourages jumping up and down more frequently. You can also feed the cat multiple small meals in different locations at different times of day to make him/her move around more.
Check in with your vet to see if bloodwork to rule out metabolic diseases is indicated. In some cases, medication may be needed to treat these diseases. If your pet seems particularly hungry, adding in low calorie, high fiber foods, like green beans and broccoli will add volume and fill to their stomach without extra calories. Be careful feeding treats like Greenies as these have a lot of calories per treat and while they may be good for dental health they also add to the pets daily caloric intake, so the amount of kibble must be reduced to account for this.
Weigh in frequently to assess your progress, once you start to see some weight loss, you will be encouraged to continue down this positive path.
Wilsonville Veterinary Clinic
9275 S.W. Barber St, Wilsonville, OR 97070