Obesity in our pets: Why should we care?
Over the last few decades there has been a great increase in the number of overweight and even obese pets. Garfield the cat may have been the first, but most certainly not the last. We believe that together as a team, we can reduce your pet’s weight and thereby increase their lifespan and quality of life.
Classifying your pet’s weight:
Just like in humans, we measure body fat in pets by looking at their body mass index (BMI). There are several ways we can do this, but with a simple measuring tape and a computer program we can get a very close estimate of your pet’s BMI. A normal BMI is 18.5-24.9, an overweight BMI is 25-29.9, and an obese BMI is > 30.
What are the risks of being overweight or obese?
- Joints: excess pressure can lead to joint pain, arthritis, and ligament injuries.
- The pancreas:
- Increased weight results in an increased risk of insulin resistance and therefore diabetes mellitus.
- Excess fat in the blood stream increases the chance of developing pancreatitis.
- Blood pressure: obesity has been linked to HIGH blood pressure which can lead to other complications such as KIDNEY and OCULAR diseases.
- Respiratory system: distress and exercise intolerance becomes common in overweight animals.
- Obesity also increases the risk of endocrine disorders such as hypothyroidism. There is also an increased risk of developing neoplasia or cancer.
- Last, but not least is a decreased life span overweight pets.
What can we do as a team?
As stated above the first thing that will be done is that your pet’s BMI will be measured. With this information we can determine your pet’s ideal weight and thereby calculate the amount of daily food intake. There are several new diet foods on the market that can help you achieve your goal to return your pet’s weight to normal. Yes, these new diets are expensive! Yet, when you consider the costs of managing the medical conditions that are associated with obesity the cost of food is a small drop in the bucket. Not only will you reduce the risk of developing these diseases, but your pet will live a much happier and healthier life. Dieting is hard, even for us and that is why we will work with you and your pet to get through this and make sure everything stays on track.
This article was submitted by Nicholasville Road Animal Hospital, a Lexington KY Veterinary Hospital.