As much as we may not like to admit it, our animals can sometimes put on some extra pounds just like we tend to do during this holiday season. It can be pretty hard to resist those puppy dog eyes when they want a piece of your dinner or a little chunk of the Christmas cookies. There’s nothing wrong with spoiling your pet every now and then, but consistently feeding them those extra tables scraps and treats can lead to an excess accumulation of fat cells and before you realize it, your pet has become obese. 

Obesity is the most common nutritional problem in dogs and cats. This is caused most commonly through a combination of excess energy intake, lack of exercises, and age. Obesity can also develop due to underlying endocrine disorders or long term use of certain drugs.

Obesity leads an animal at an increased risk to many health problems including heart and respiratory issues, chronic inflammation, joint problems (e.g. arthritis), pancreatitis in dogs, fatty liver in cats, diabetes, and an increased risk of morbidity/mortality during anesthesia. 

The good news is that obesity can be treated through a combination of calorie restriction and exercise. Eliminating the extra table scraps and treats or substituting them with things like carrots or green beans is a good start to eliminating those extra calories. In certain situations, some’s pet may need to be placed on a prescription weight loss diet high in dietary fiber. 

Don’t expect your pet to lose all the weight within a few short days during the dieting phase. Weight loss in pets, especially cats, needs to be a slow and gradual process (about 1% of body weight loss every two weeks) or else you can run the risk of fatty liver syndrome developing. 

Your pet may not be fond of a diet initially, especially during a time of holiday cheer, but a few months of resentment is well worth the long, happy life they will get in exchange for it. If you ever want to further discuss a dieting plan for you pet, please do not be afraid to contact us or set up an appointment. Remember, there is such a thing as killing your pet with kindness, and as much as we love them, we still need to be conscientious of those turkey trimmings or that extra serving of wet food.