You may think that your companion being overweight is not a serious problem, particularly if they’re older. However, just like humans; animals are prone to a range of health problems from obesity. Similarly, obesity can be caused by numerous conditions that may occur with old age which your pet may need treatment for, so shouldn’t be ignored. This blog looks into the health problems obesity causes, how to tackle obesity, and how to measure your pet's weight.
Health Problems Caused By Obesity:
The most common health problems in dogs that stem from obesity are:
More alarmingly though, obesity can shorten a dog’s lifespan by as much as two years.
Obesity in cats can also be extremely detrimental to health.
Common health conditions in cats, as a result of obesity, include:
Lower Urinary Tract Disease (cystitis)- this can cause something known as a blocked bladder in male cats which is very serious and can be life-threatening.
Fatty Liver Disease (Hepatic Lipidosis) - this tends to happen if your cat drops weight too fast. This is why it's so important to have support from a veterinary practice.
Matting of fur - we often find that cats who are overweight struggle to groom themselves and can present to us with very tight mats.
How To Tackle Obesity:
At Roundwood Pet Hospice, we help old pets live well to the end. In order for your pet to have a healthy quality of life for as long as possible, we may encourage weight loss is needed for your pet. We can help discuss food and diet and monitor your pet’s weight loss to make sure it’s not too sudden or slow. Obesity in older pets can also be caused by other conditions, such as an under-active thyroid, reduced activity levels due to arthritis, or even over-feeding as a result of diabetes or Cushing’s disease, so it’s important to rule these out or understand how to manage them to keep the obesity at bay.
Feeding Your Pet
To help your pet lose weight, we may suggest putting them on a special weight management diet. It can often be handy to pre-weigh the required amount of food your pet needs for each meal and bag them for the week. This way your pet is getting the exact amount of food each time. Splitting up your pets' meals can also help weight loss. Having little amounts of food often can prevent them from feeling hungry. This can also be helpful for pets with dementia, who may have forgotten they have eaten and appear constantly hungry.
Encouraging exercise is equally as important as diet. For dogs, regular walks and garden exercise are essential for keeping them active and helping them lose weight. If your elderly dog is struggling with arthritis or reduced mobility, instead of taking them for one long walk, opt for several shorter walks throughout the day to keep them moving but reduce the risk of inflammation.
For cats using toys can be valuable, as this makes them run and move as they play. For our lazier furry friends, feeding them on the stairs can be beneficial. This makes them move up and down the stairs to get their food. For other older pets whose activity levels are reduced for various reasons, a smaller diet might be needed to compensate.
Other Ways To Aid Weight Loss:
Avoid giving human food, what seems like a small amount of food to you is a lot to them.
Scatter feeding can be used to elongate your pet's mealtimes. This can be done by scattering their food over a wide area such as around your garden or house and also provides mental stimulation at the same time.
Giving your pet vegetables (such as carrots) are good alternative snacks to treats.
Make sure the whole family is involved and aware of your pet's weight loss journey to avoid overfeeding.
No matter how old your pet is, it is important they maintain a healthy body weight to keep your pet's quality of life high until the end.
Checking Your Pets Weight:
The charts below can offer visual cues to help you understand the healthy weight we are looking for.
Ideally, a dog and cat of a healthy weight should have visible ribs with a tucked tummy.
If you suspect your elderly pet is overweight, contact us on 0800 0495944 and book an appointment so we can help them live well till the end.