At our Central Florida Vets practices, we are often asked about ongoing, at-home pet care. One of the most common concerns has to do with a healthy pet weight. Our most recent question was:
Why is my dog so fat when I really don’t feed him very much?
We are so glad that you’re looking to maintain your pet’s weight. Just like with humans, obesity has become a leading health issue for pets. When determining your pet’s dietary needs, it’s important to understand that:
- Each brand of dog food will have a different caloric value per pound and you should know what yours is on the brand of food your pet eats.
- Some foods may be higher in fat content. These will be the foods that your pet is more likely to like better. This is similar to the human desire for fast food!
- Other factors that must be considered in dietary management are your pet’s:
- Energy levels
- Living conditions
Once you understand these parts of your pet’s lifestyle, it’s important to evaluate the amount of food they eat daily and the amount of exercise they get. If your pet is not overeating and is getting adequate exercise and still looks like a football on legs, there may be another issue that is causing the weight gain. A metabolic disease can be the cause of this, but a condition of this type must be diagnosed through examination and blood tests. Weight issues can be caused by conditions such as an underactive thyroid or Cushings disease.
A River Oaks Animal Hospital Case Study
Our veterinary team is currently working with a pet named Bonzo who is experiencing weight management issues. He is currently 67 pounds, but his healthy weight is only 15 pounds.
Bonzo’s case addresses another problem: how to lose weight. In this case, there is an underlying disease, so we use medication and diet control. Bonzo’s food is strictly regulated and we have now started an exercise program. With this amount of excess weight, we are aiming to boost the metabolism by splitting his meals into four portions and making sure that he walks before eating. In other words, no energy input without energy output. We are aiming for a weight loss of about 1 to 2 pounds every ten days.
So far, we are on track and after a few days, Bonzo has been able to double his exercise. The owner is committed to winning, and that is another important facet. Ignore the comments and stares you may get taking a very overweight dog to the dog park. You are doing the right thing. Overweight dogs have a higher chance of developing diabetes and joint disease.
Is Your Pet Overweight?
If you are a pet owner with an overweight pet, talk to us. We would love to work with you to help determine the root cause, and more importantly, the treatment options available to get your pet back to their healthy weight. Remember, a healthy weight is essential for a long life!