What problems can occur with overweight pets?
Just like humans, overweight pets are more susceptible to a range of associated medical conditions, including osteoarthritis and certain types of cancer. Overweight pets typically have a lower quality of life and die younger than healthy-weight pets.
How being overweight affects your pet
Due to the extra weight they are continually carrying around, overweight animals are less energetic, less willing to play and generally get less enjoyment out of life. Owners do not always recognise this if their pet gains weight gradually or has always been overweight.
Why do pets become overweight?
Advances in the nutritional quality of pet foods have led to many pets being fed complete diets. This has generally been good for pets’ health and has eliminated many nutritional deficiencies, but it is important to carefully regulate how much is fed to avoid weight gain. Care must also be taken with treats and other supplemental foods since these can contain a lot of calories.
Some common conditions such as osteoarthritis can lead to obesity since the pet will be less keen and able to exercise. Rarer conditions like an underactive thyroid gland can also cause weight gain. Your vet will be able to identify whether these may be a problem for your pet.
The majority of pets need daily exercise to avoid weight gain. Dogs need to be walked every day, cats need to be provided with either outdoor access or opportunities to climb and play indoors, and smaller pets need to have space to climb, dig and explore. If pets don't have a regular exercise regime, then they are at risk of becoming overweight.
Exercise & energy expenditure
One of the most effective strategies for addressing the problem of overweight pets is to prevent pets from becoming overweight in the first place.
How to help your pet lose weight
Tips for managing weight loss
Gradually increase physical activity
In accordance with your pet's health and age.
For puppy specific advice click below.Read more
Any diet changes must also be introduced slowly
This is especially important in cats and rabbits, as rapid weight loss in these pets can cause life-threatening complications.Read more
Body condition scoring
Weight alone is not a good measure to see if your pet is healthy. Body condition scoring involves getting ‘hands on’ by feeling your pet’s ribs and waist. Our online guides can help you assess your pet’s body condition score.Read more