Pudgy Dogs, Fat Cats, And Indulgent Owners

Pudgy Pups and Fat Cats may elicit chuckles for their waddling ways, but a new study released by a national pet insurer reveals that obesity in four-legged family members is no laughing matter. Injuries that have been linked to obesity, such as cruciate ligament tears, remain near the top of the list for the most insurance-claimed conditions, while other obesity associated diseases are on a steady rise. Arthritis claims are up 348% over 2010, diabetes rose 253%, and cardiac disease is up 32%, along with high blood pressure, respiratory difficulty, and several types of cancer.

The Assoc. for Pet Obesity Prevention studies show 53% of adult dogs and 55% of cats are classified as overweight by their veterinarians. Some pet owners are in denial, as 22% or dog owners and 15% of cat owners judge these pets to be at normal weights. Because portly pets have a higher incidence of costly illnesses and injuries, obesity can be a heavy burden for the family budget too. To help chunky kittens and roly-poly rovers slim down for good, we suggest the following health tips:

Watch What They Eat:

Grazing adult pets often consume more calories than they need to maintain a healthy weight, so eliminate self feeders and switch to

regular twice-daily MEASURED feedings using a true measuring cup. Today’s pet foods are more calorie-dense, so follow your veterinarian’s feeding suggestions or, unless your adult pet is exercising all throughout the day, feed on the low side of the range suggested by the manufacturer. Pet food companies are starting to provide foods for various life stages and conditions, so if you or your veterinarian detect EARLY excess weight gain, search out the healthy weight management or lite or less active version of your pet’s favorite food. Advanced obesity will likely take a more stringent approach, often requiring prescription foods that tackle obesity in different ways, as is the case with people. Some dogs respond better to higher fiber-lower overall calorie foods, and some lose weight more efficiently on high protein-lower carbohydrate diets.

Please note that if you took the entire day’s combined dog treats and snacks, broke them into small pieces, and then put them in a measuring cup (or cups), often the source of the pet’s obesity would become apparent. Try replacing some Snaussages or Milk Bones with frozen green beans or raw baby carrots. And it goes without saying that all table food and human’s snack foods cannot be part of the pet’s diet. Our veterinary staff members can provide lots of suggestions, insights, and counseling to help slim down your pet.

For those dogs and cats who cannot seem to lose weight on diligent traditional reducing diets, there is a unique prescription pet food and diet plan called Hills Metabolic DIet that can be prescribed by our veterinarians. The amount recommended to feed each pet is different and is determined by many factors, including a series of specific body measurements that are entered into a computer program to determine exactly how much of this food to feed your dog. Clinical trials and our own experience has shown that where owners adhere strictly to this protocol, 88% of dogs lose an initial calculated weight in two months. The program is continued until the desired healthy weight goal has been achieved. Then a maintenance plan is calculated to keep your pet healthy and in shape long term.

Get A Move On:

Daily exercise is essential for all pets, especially low energy overweight dogs and cats, but don’t dive into intense exercise right away. Gradually increase the length of walks and play sessions every two weeks to gradually build up your pet’s endurance. Some cats need to “relearn” how to play, so get out that feather on a fishing pole or the laser pointer to entice them to chase and move. Some of our clients have had luck getting the cats to move by putting the food bowl on different levels of the house everyday. Be creative!

Make Fitness Fun!:

Try making pets work for their food by stuffing meals into food-releasing toys which come in a wide variety at pet stores so that there is some activity and work involved in getting their food. Make meals work for you using it as a reward while teaching new tricks. Turn exercise into interactive fun by playing fetch or setting up fun obstacle courses, or play hide and seek with your dog or cat. When your pet is begging for yet another treat, avoid more food by trying some exercise or play, since most pets may actually want your attention and affection more than the food anyway!

To better assess the health of your pets’ teeth we now have DIGITAL DENTAL X-RAY EQUIPMENT. This allows us to see hidden periodontal disease surrounding the tooth roots so that action can be taken to judiciously suggest treatment or extraction since our pets can’t tell us where it hurts them.


Pittsburgh Spay & Vaccination Clinic is a state-of-the-art, full-service suburban veterinary facility serving the Pittsburgh Area since 1980.. We offer diagnostic, medical, surgical, and dental care to dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, and pocket pets in the Pittsburgh area.

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