Obesity Isn’t Just a Human Thing
Does your Santa Rosa vet prioritize pet-specific weight goals? If not, s/he should be. During a 2018 clinical survey, the APOP found:
- 55.8% of dogs are clinically overweight (roughly 50 million dogs)
- 59.5% of cats are clinically overweight (roughly 56 million cats)
And, that only accounts for pets seen regularly by veterinarians. Those estimates may be conservative when considering the entire U.S.feline/canine pet population.
Overweight pets are automatically at higher-risk for serious health conditions including joint pain and arthritis, heart disease, cancer and diabetes. As you can imagine, the development of one – or more – of those health conditions contributes to a cascade effect. Making healthy weight management an overarching part of your pets’ care plan, improves the quality of his/her life now – and down the road.
Santa Rosa Vets Should Treat Pet Obesity at its Roots
Sure, there are genetic issues or existing health factors that contribute to a pet’s obesity, particularly if your dog or cat has thyroid issues. However, when your Santa Rosa vet addresses the following issues, s/he unlocks the keys to healthy pet weight management.
Feed pets just enough – and not too much
In almost all cases, cats and dogs are fed by their owners, rarely left to their own devices when it comes to food and water. As a result, many pets are over-fed. For some, it’s because pet owners often make an association between Love and Food. Thus, the more you love your pet, the more food you may provide.
In other cases, pet owners faithfully and responsibly use the guidelines provided by the dry or wet food packaging, which suggest by pet weight, which isn’t always the best indicator.
Recommended “food dosage” based on weight fails to account for:
- The price of running a business. Even well-meaning pet food purveyors may err on the side of “too much,” because the more food you use, the more food you have to buy.
- Your pet’s lifestyle. Most pet food is portioned with consideration to an “active pet” lifestyle. If you work full-time, and only get your pet out to exercise once or twice a week, this is more food than your pet can burn off through activity.
- The ingredient list. Not all food is created equal, so pet foods with more fillers, sugars or carbohydrates or ingredients a pet is sensitive to causes pets to gain more weight, faster. This applies to the human food that makes its way into your pet’s diet, too. At Wise and Wonderful Integrative Veterinary Center, we promote high protein low carbohydrate diets for most of our patients – this goes way beyond “grain free.” We are happy to discuss nutrition as part of your pet’s check up.
- Your pet’s metabolism. Just as humans are born with a “pre-set” metabolism (the rate at which your body processes and burns calories), so are pets. If your pet has a slower metabolism (common for older pets and certain breeds), odds are s/he’ll eat on the lower-end (or less than) of the portion range offered on the pet food packaging.
- Treats. Treats should be subtracted from the total amount fed per day. So, if you currently feed your dog or cat 1/2 to 1 cup of food/day, decrease that measurement if you subsidize their diet with other treats. And, like human treats, those should only comprise a very small percentage of the pet’s overall diet.
Fortunately, your Santa Rosa vet is your Number One ally in helping your pet maintain healthy weight targets. Our nutritional plans and pet-specific guidelines and recommendations serve as the foundational means to this important goal.
Spay and Neuter With Respect to Your Pet’s Age
While we can all agree that spaying and neutering supports population control among other indications, studies have shown that spaying/neutering slows down a pet’s metabolism, and this may be particularly true when pets are spayed/neutered too young. Be sure to take your companion’s reproductive status into account when calculating their energy needs. Spayed and neutered pets often need less calories than their intact counterparts.
Exercise your pet regularly
Exercise is just as important to pets as it is for people, so you’ll probably benefit as much as your pet on this one. Make exercising your pet an absolute. Staying consistent is key so choose a level of exercise that you can provide on a regular basis.
See if you can get others in your household on board. Daily walks or hikes are typically the easiest way to get the job done, but other examples include:
- Visiting dog parks
- Allowing your dog to swim in safe rivers, lakes, streams where s/he’s allowed
- Playing fetch
- Giving him/her a job to do (Some pets love chores. Read, Teach Your Dog to Help With Chores…“
- Organize play dates
- Invest in Doggy Day Care
If you have an indoor cat, invest in food-dispensing toys/puzzles that require the cat to work for his/her food (replicating natural, active predator behaviors).
Looking for a Santa Rosa vet who makes weight management part of your pet’s long-term care plan? At Wise and Wonderful Integrative Veterinary Center, nutritional counselling is one of the many services we offer.
Contact us here at Wise and Wonderful Integrative Veterinary Center.