The Pet Weight Debate

Healthy Choices for our Pets

It is estimated that at least one third of our pets are overweight in New Zealand. In the USA the figures are well over 50% and growing!  The costs over a lifetime can be thousands of dollars, dealing with weight related diseases.  Also a shortened lifespan can be heartbreaking.

Fat cats are often classified as cute and the weight is normalised by all the fat cat video’s and pictures on social media.  On YouTube the video of the world’s fattest cats has over 31 million views!

Overweight dogs are also very common and often associated with some familiar breeds.

The reality is that for many of our overweight dogs and cats there is a list of health issues that they will face, just like overweight humans.

Weight puts extra stress on joints that can lead to pain and decreased activity, which just compounds the problem.

Other common problems linked directly to weight are:

  • Ruptured ligaments
  • Spinal disc problems
  • Diabetes
  • Some cancers
  • Hypertension
  • Liver / Kidney disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Increased surgical risk
  • Lowered immune system function
  • Heart disease

How do I know if my pet is overweight?

To do a check on your dog or cat, feel around it midsection while he/she is standing.  The ribs and spine should be easy to feel, and on most pets you should be able to feel ‘a waist’ or a slight hourglass shape to the waist.  If the ribs and spine are standing out, your dog or cat is likely to be underweight. According to PetMD, if you cannot easily feel your dog or cat’s ribs or spine, and the tucked-in waist has thickened enough to give the pet a more tubular shape it time to think about a weight loss program for your pet.  No waist is a good indicator of a weight issue.

What to do

There has been plenty written on the subject and there are some easy tips and strategies to get you started back on the road to having a happy and weight-healthy cat or dog.  The first is possibly the most difficult and that is when those gorgeous, imploring eyes are begging for some of what you are eating, say NO to yourself as well as the pet! Many weight issues stem from treats and table snacks so by saying NO you are creating short-term pain for long-term gain. 

Exercise for dogs:     So very important and vital for a full and happy life.  If you cannot meet your dogs exercise requirements, please consider having your dog walked by a professional dog walker.  Paws at Home do offer this service and we create a specific tailor made program for weight loss, including a monthly weigh in to track your dogs progress. Check out our services menu.

Snacks:  An easy trap to fall into with the huge variety available in the pet stores & supermarkets.  Choose healthy! Just like human snacks pet treats can be full of sugar or fat and nasty additives.  Look for the healthy choices and consider a slice of apple for your dog.  Often well received.

Meal choices: Ensure that you are purchasing a well balanced, premium food or if your pet is on a raw food diet, check that the raw food is from a reliable source.  Paws at Home stock the grain free Wishbone brand, we love that its made in NZ, full of protein +90%, herbs and fruits and is very palatable.  If you would like a free sample, just email sarah@pawsathome.co.nz.

Unsure or concerned about your pets health, then have a vet check with your local vet and talk about any concerns that you might have.

References: MarketResearch.com – Daniel Granderson & MEDMD.  Photo- New York Times


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