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There's an obesity epidemic going on in our country, and it isn't just affecting humans. At least one-quarter of all pets today can be classified as obese, with a large number of overweight pets moving in that direction. At Richview Animal Hospital we see this growing trend, and we're dedicated to helping all of our furry patients change their lifestyles to get back into a healthy weight. You might think of an obese or overweight pet as just cute and extra-fluffy, but in reality, that excess weight can endanger your pet's health and even its life.
Having excess weight means more than your pet slowing down on walks. Our Etobicoke vet team sees multiple patients with obesity related conditions and illnesses, such as:
Just like in humans, the root cause of pet obesity is taking in more calories than they burn off. The problem with obese pets is that, in most cases, they're obese because of loving owners. Giving your pet treats when you cook, feeding your dog under the table, snuggling with your cat on the couch instead of physically playing with it and other loving gestures can add up to excess pounds faster than you think. Giving an occasional bite of lean chicken or turkey won't hurt your pet, but regular snacks off your plate is a quick way to pack on the pounds. For instance, for a toy dog, did you know that a piece of cheese the size of a pair of dice gives it one-third its daily calories? Feed your cat a slice of deli ham while you're making a sandwich, and you're giving it an extra 20 percent of its daily calorie allowance. Do that a couple of times a week, and it's easy to see how pets can become obese.
Getting your pet back to a healthy weight is all up to you, and it takes a two-pronged approach: nutrition and exercise. On the nutrition end, our veterinarian will consult with you to lay out a course of healthy eating. He'll advise on what foods to give, how often to feed your pet, and will even give you some healthy snacking alternatives such as raw carrots or apples for dogs. It can be hard to break the habit of giving human treats as a reward for your pet, but the results are worth the effort.
The other half of the equation is exercise. We'll give you suggestions on how much to do, depending on your pet's health condition. Extra walks or chasing balls are fun ways to get dogs to get more exercise, while most cats will spend a long time chasing a laser pointer or jumping for a single feather. Make it fun, and they'll be eager to join in.
Obesity is a major health risk for both dogs and cats, fortunately, it's a problem that can be a successful fix. Call our office at 416-245-8805 to make an appointment or to find out more.