Weight is vital to pets’ health

Jan 25, 2024 | THE HEALTHY PET, Nutrition, Seniors

Weight gain can be a killer; obesity leads to diabetes, heart disease, joint ailment and a host of issues even in pets which is why it is important to keep your pet’s weight optimal throughout his or her life.

Weight in babyhood

Puppies and kittens grow rapidly in their early stages of life. Their diet will be different to an adult’s diet as they need food rich in the nutrients essential to support development and growth. The size of your dog is also important as large breed puppies have different needs to smaller breeds due to their bone size. If you’re adopting a puppy or kitten, ask your vet for feeding guidelines.

Weight in adulthood

For adult dogs and cats, it is vital to maintain a stable weight. A nutritious diet is important while simultaneously ensuring portion control. It is important to tailor their diet to their individual size and breed. Regular exercise is also highly recommended to prevent obesity-related conditions like diabetes or heart disease. Most vets will recommend at the very least one walk a day for a dog, and stimulating chase or catch games for cats. As with humans, cardiac exercise is essential for heart health.

And remember that different breeds and sizes have different nutritional needs. Small breeds might require smaller, but more frequent meals, whereas large breeds would need a diet focused on joint health.

Golden oldies

Senior dogs and cats (those over the age of 7 to 9 years) will  experience a decrease in metabolism and will require adjustments to their diet and exercise regime. A senior pet has different nutritional needs to a younger pet and exercise periods may be slower and shorter. However, exercise is still important and should not be neglected. Neither should checkups. For elderly pets, 6 monthly check-ups by your veterinarian are important for your pet’s long term survival https://www.ebervet.com/older-dogs-need-regular-vet-checks/

Common causes of weight gain

• Overfeeding

• Snacking from the table

• Lack of exercise

• Underlying medical conditions, for example hypothyroidism or Cushings disease.

But how do I know if my pet’s overweight?

Place your hands on your pet’s rib cage with your thumb on the back.

• If you feel your pet’s ribs easily, your pet is probably at a normal weight.

• If you can feel some fat between the skin and ribs or if the ribs are difficult to detect, your pet is probably considered overweight.

•  If you can’t feel the ribs at all, your pet may likely be obese.

In some pets, particularly cats, a large abdomen that hangs down toward the ground may indicate obesity. It’s important to have this judgment confirmed by your veterinarian; he or she can rule out other diseases that may be confused with obesity but could be heart, kidney or glandular disease.

Your pet is a probably a healthy weight if …

• You can easily feel its ribs

• It has a tucked abdomen and no sagging stomach

• You can see its waist from above

  Your pet might be overweight if …

• You have difficulty feeling its ribs

• It has a sagging stomach, and you can grab a handful of fat

• It has a broad,  fat back and no visible waist

How can we then manage our beloved pet’s weight? Portion control, regular exercise, limiting treats and weight loss programmes have shown great success. Still struggling to shed those extra kilograms? Consult your veterinarian.

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