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Pet Obesity, by Dr. Foley

According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention in the United States, an estimated 52.7% of dogs and 57.9% of cats are overweight or obese. A lifetime study of Labrador Retrievers showed that overweight dogs have a shorter lifespan of up to two years compared to lean dogs. Fat cells do more than store extra calories in the body. Fat acts like its own organ by pumping out hormones and inflammatory substances. Inflammation is the root of many diseases. Common consequences of obesity are osteoarthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, skin infections, heat intolerance, and cancer.

As loving pet owners, we often show our pets how much we love our pets by giving them treats or people food. What we don't realize is that each of these "small" treats pack a lot of calories! Two diced cubes of cheese are equivalent to eating an entire cheeseburger for dogs. Giving them table scraps can also cause illnesses such as vomiting, diarrhea, and pancreatitis. Often, the extra calories we are giving to our pets through treats or excess food, are not reinforced with increased exercise, especially in cats. Instead, show how much you love your pets with a little exercise which, believe it or not can be equally rewarding to our pets! Go for a walk, play fetch, or for cats, play with a laser pointer.

There are several things you should look for to determine if your pet is overweight. You should be able to see and feel the outline of your pet's ribs without an excess layer of fat. It should feel similar to the skin covering the top of your knuckles when your hand is flat, not the palm side of your knuckles. When viewing your pet from above, you should be able to see a distinct waistline (try to imagine where the top of their pants would fall). Lastly, their belly should be tucked up when viewing them from the side.

If you think your pet is overweight, please bring them in for a check-up and we can assign them a body condition score and design an easy to use, weight management plan. You can also swing by the hospital at any time to use our floor scale to see their progress! Please be mindful that rapid weight loss, especially in cats, can cause serious health problems so be sure to speak to a veterinarian before starting a weight loss program.

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