Preventing pet obesity

Did you know that obesity isn't just a human condition? That's right, your beloved pet pooch or kitty can suffer from the negative effects of this dangerous issue as well.

As their loving owner, it's up to you to make sure they stay healthy and happy throughout their lifetime. Just as obesity and related cardiovascular diseases continue to present a major problem in Australia, so too can it affect the wellbeing of your pets.

So while it's admirable to want to see your pet well-fed, the dangers of overfeeding them can be just as critical.
Research cited by the Australian Veterinary Association highlights the prevalence of overweight pets in the country. In a study based on 52 veterinary practices encompassing 2,661 dogs, 33.5 per cent were found to be overweight and 7.6 per cent were obese.1

Interestingly, the study also found the prevalence of overweight and obese dogs increased with age up to around 10 years, after which time it declined, and rural and semi-rural dogs were more at risk than their urban and suburban counterparts.

Causes of pet obesity

While dogs are more likely to have problems with weight control compared to cats, every pet owner has a responsibility to look out for the signs and indications of obesity in their furry friends.

Female, neutered and older animals are at greater risk of being overweight or obese, but insufficient exercise and poor diet can also be significant contributing factors. The Australian Veterinary Association also states that single pet households have a greater risk of pet obesity.1

The indicators of obesity or excess weight in pets include a sagging stomach and a broad, flat back. If you have difficulty feeling the ribs of your pet under fat, this may also be a sign their weight is not at an optimal level.

Preventing obesity in your pet

The association states that in 95 per cent of pet obesity cases, the effects can be mitigated through controlling the animal's caloric intake.1

With that in mind, owners have a special responsibility to ensure their pets have a healthy diet that caters for their specific nutritional needs.

For puppies, their growing bodies require increased amounts of energy, protein and calcium, while adult dogs need food that helps maintain the health of their teeth, skin and coat.

Regular exercise is also an important factor to keeping your dog’s weight under control, this could involve throwing a ball and getting them to fetch or going for a walk.

If your dog has lower levels of physical activity and is unable to enjoy regular exercise, select food that helps to prevent the risk of obesity.

For cats, dietary needs will differ greatly based on whether they are more indoor or outdoor cats and their age and lifestyle habits. Talking to your veterinarian will help you find the information you need to create a healthy diet for your pet.

Some products such as the Hill’s Science Diet range are also recommended by veterinarians, so look around at your local pet shop to find approved options for your cat or dog.

Following these simple steps are one way to help maintain your pet’s health and wellbeing, and give your pet a long and happy life.

Another way to ensure your pet lives a long and happy life is to ensure that they get the medical treatment that they deserve when they are sick or insured. Pet insurance can come in handy as a way to help maintain your pet’s health and wellbeing. If your pet does become ill or injured, a pet insurance policy can assist in covering their medical costs. Pet insurance is one way to help you manage the costs of what can often be expensive treatment. When you take out a policy for your cat or dog, it can help you ensure a variety of veterinary services and treatments are available for your furry friend should they need it.

  1. Pet obesity, Australian Veterinary Association

These articles are provided as reference material to allow more informed decision making, but are not intended as being a complete source of information on any topic. All readers should make their own independent analysis on the topic to make sure they have considered the aspects that are important to them.