La Crescenta Veterinarian Dedicated to Your Pet’s Health – (818) 485-2527
Across the country, an obesity epidemic is growing. Millions of pets are overweight and at risk of obesity and a number of related health problems. This epidemic often goes unnoticed because there aren’t as many clear indications that your pet is overweight and often we find pudgy pets cute.
For your pet’s well-being, however, it is important to ensure that your pet maintains a healthy weight. Your La Crescenta veterinarian can help you put your pet on a healthy diet and exercise plan.
Schedule an appointment today with the Crescenta Cañada Pet Hospital to learn more.
The Dangers of Obesity in Pets
Just as obesity can cause health issues for their owners, obesity in pets can lead to dangerous medical conditions that can be expensive to treat and can shorten your pet’s life span. Approximately 58% of cats and 54% of dogs in the US are overweight, and these pets are at risk of a number of health problems.
Conditions caused by obesity include:
- High blood pressure
- Kidney disease
- Heart disease
- Joint injuries
- Heat intolerance
- Reproductive problems
- Decreased stamina
- Breathing problems
- Ligament injuries
Treating and Preventing Obesity
Prevention is best, but if your pet is already overweight, you can help protect them from obesity and the associated health problems by helping them shed the extra weight. As a responsible pet owner, it is up to you to make decisions that affect your pet’s health and well-being, including making the decision for them to go on a diet.
Here are some ways you can help prevent or treat pet obesity:
- Weigh your pet. We may not enjoy stepping on the scale, but your pet doesn’t have to worry. Regular weight checks can help you gauge your pet’s health, and can provide insight into their exercise and diet habits. Your veterinarian can help you find your pet’s weight and optimal weight range. There also are online size guides, such as the Pet Size-O-Meter charts available from the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association website.
- Schedule a vet appointment. Your vet can help you when your pet is ill, but check-ups are an important part of your pet’s healthcare. Take a trip to the vet and request information about your pet’s specific nutritional needs and tips to help them maintain a healthy, active lifestyle.
- Be aware of your pet’s diet. Like human food, not all pet food is created equal. Calorie-dense but nutritionally void foods can lead pets to overeat. Check the labels of your pet’s food for nutrition information, and steer clear of foods containing high amounts of salt, fat, sugar, artificial ingredients, and processed foods. Be wary of any claims that aren’t supported with proof. When in doubt, consult your vet. Treats shouldn’t be substituted for a healthy meal. These are often low in nutrition, but high in calories, and should be fed sparingly.
- Don’t feed your pet “people food.” In addition to checking their food, you also should make sure that your pet isn’t getting food from other sources, such as table scraps, the garbage, or other people. They may be undoing your careful work by begging food from the rest of your family. As cute as those puppy dog eyes are, people food can cause your pet to gain weight or can even be toxic to them.
- Keep track of how much your pet eats. It can be easy to leave out a full bowl of food for your pet when you have a busy schedule, but it can be difficult to track how much your pet is eating over the course of a day when they are free-fed. Ask your vet about an appropriate amount of food and feed your pet meals, instead of allowing them to eat when they want. For pets who eat everything in sight, this can help you control their eating habits.
- Exercise your pet. Just as their owners need to get moving to maintain a healthy lifestyle, pets need exercise. Several short walks can help an overweight pet get in shape, but longer walks or runs can help a slim pet keep their weight down. Be sure to build up your pet’s stamina slowly, and aim for 20 minutes of constant activity each day. For cats, active play with a laser pointer, a ribbon wand, or other toys can help keep them moving. Exercise has a number of health benefits for your pet, including a stronger respiratory and circulation system, improved muscle tone and flexibility, easier digestion, and preventing boredom, destructiveness, and encouraging social interaction.
- Take a closer look at your pet’s medications. If your pet takes medications regularly or is on a course of medications to treat a temporary condition, there may be interactions that increase your pet’s weight. Discuss your pet’s medication with your veterinarian, and learn if there are any special actions you should take to help them maintain a healthy weight.
Get Help Protecting Your Pet from Obesity - (818) 485-2527
The Crescenta Cañada Pet Hospital team is invested in your pet’s health. Let us help you keep your pets healthy, active, and happy. We have been supporting pet owners and their furry friends since 1958, and we are committed to providing excellent preventative care and treatment for all our patients. We offer a number of services, including nutritional counseling, to keep your pet feeling their best.
Contact our La Crescenta veterinarians today at (818) 485-2527 to schedule a checkup appointment.