Keep a check on your pet's weight to ensure it doesn't affect their health or their insurance premium.
A good dog or cat owner loves their animal unconditionally, no matter what shape or size they are. Yet it’s all too easy to overindulge our pets, showing them a little too much love through excess feeding and an abundance of treats.
Combined with a lack of exercise, this can lead to one of the most prevalent problems for pets: becoming overweight. Weight gain is a problem for animals as well as humans – obese animals are at increased risk of numerous health issues, from joint problems and high blood pressure to heart disease and cancer.
Naturally your animal’s healthcare and well-being should be your first priority when taking care of a pet. But the dangers of obesity can also put a strain on your finances and affect how much you pay for your pet insurance.
We’ve compiled everything you need to know about overweight pets in this handy guide, as well as some nifty tips to keep your cat or dog fighting fit and avoid the worrying side effects of obesity.
What are the causes of obesity in pets?
While it might sound obvious, it’s worth stating that the most common reasons for obesity in animals are overfeeding and a lack of exercise. If you’ve got a fat dog or an obese cat, it may simply be because they’ve had too many treats and not enough walks.
It can be easy to overfeed your dog or cat, particularly if you give them scraps from the table or leftovers from your meals. Rewarding your animal with too many treats can be another cause of obesity – dogs that are treated too often can become obsessed with food, repeatedly begging for it.
Different pets need different amount of exercise. To avoid an obese dog or cat, ask your vet how much exercise an animal of their type should be getting per day, and follow their advice. The doctor knows best!
If you’re worried that your pet is gaining weight for a different reason, such as a symptom of illness, book in to see a vet as soon as possible. They’ll be able to diagnose what’s wrong with your pet and suggest the best course of action.
Dangers of obesity in pets
Why is obesity a problem? Well, as well as affecting your animal’s overall energy levels and mood, being overweight makes them more likely to develop health problems caused by obesity.
Heart disease, respiratory problems, diabetes and cancer are among the most serious consequences of obesity. These conditions can be traumatic for dogs, cats and other animals to experience, not to mention the distress it may cause for you and your family.
While most pet insurance policies will cover overweight pets, your premium can end up being more expensive if your pet has pre-existing health issues as a result of being overweight.
If you’re worried that your pet is on the porky side, don’t panic: many of the health problems associated with obesity can be tackled with a few simple changes to your pet’s diet and exercise routine.
Animal healthcare tips: avoiding and overcoming animal obesity
Keep your dog or cat in tip-top condition with these no-nonsense pet health tips.
Choose the right food – Human food will rarely suit your animal’s dietary requirements. It’s generally better to feed them suitably sized portions of a quality pet food that’s suited to their age, size and breed. If you aren’t sure about which pet food to choose, ask your vet to provide some recommendations.
Don’t rely on edible treats – Reward your pet with affection, playtime and exercise rather than repeatedly giving them food, and seek the help of an expert dog trainer if begging for treats becomes a problem.
Get your animal active – If you don’t have time to walk your dog, it may be worth hiring a professional walker, or using a service such as Borrow My Doggy to connect with local animal lovers who’d be willing to exercise your canine friend for free.