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Obesity is a complex disease with influences of genetics, environmental factors, and other diseases. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimates that 54% of the pets in the United States are overweight or obese. Why does this matter? Pets that are overweight or obese are at risk for several diseases, including osteoarthritis (OA). Obesity is ultimately caused by consuming more calories than needed. The excess calories are stored are then stored as fat. Hormones and chemicals related to inflammation are released from this fat, causing chronic diseases such as OA. Cartoon cats with a fancy for pasta are not aspirational for our pets. Just like people, a weight loss journey is never all that simple and easy. However, in the end will lead to a more enjoyable life for your companion.
How Do I Know If My Pet is Overweight?
One of the first steps to evaluating a pet that is overweight or obese is a thorough physical examination and laboratory tests. Your veterinarian will help you evaluate your pet’s Body Condition Score (BCS) which evaluates body fat by observation and palpation. There is a 5-point scoring system and a 9-point scoring system. For most pets a body condition score of 3 on a 5-point system and 5 on a 9-point system is a good goal.
Some physical signs of obesity on your pet maybe displayed as the following:
Tips for Weight Management
Below are some ways that can help make your pet’s weight management more beneficial and easier for the both of you:
Feeding a weight loss food, using supplements to maintain healthy joints, and exercising several times a week are all key parts to a good weight management program. However, the most important step each pet owner needs to take is recognizing that there is a problem and to take action. We sometimes use excuses of “she’s just fluffy” or “he’s big boned” but honesty is needed to recognize positive changes that will better the quality of your pet’s life. It isn’t easy but helping your pet lose weight and maintaining an ideal weight will make them feel better in the long run.