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“Pleasantly Plump?”

Obesity has become a serious problem among our four-legged companions. At least 25% of the dogs and cats brought to the veterinarian in the United States are overweight or obese based on body condition scores. Why is this happening? The fact that being overweight is incompatible with good health is hardly news.

Many serious health problems are directly linked to obesity. These include Diabetes Mellitus, orthopedic difficulties including osteoarthritis and ligamentous injuries, hepatic lipidosis (liver disease), respiratory difficulties, exacerbation of heart disease, perineal dermatitis and other grooming related complications, exacerbation of spinal disease, significantly increased risk of difficulties with anesthesia and surgery, and increased mortality or early death.

The following are several factors that lead to obesity:
The "Diet factor"- Processed foods are compact, energy rich, super palatable nuggets.
The "Human factor" – People eat for various reasons in addition to caloric need and often feel their pet needs those supplements as well.
The "Predator factor" – In the wild cats and dogs were predators. A meal involved the tracking down and wrestling of prey to the ground to obtain a meal.
Now there is minimal energy expenditure when getting a meal.
The "Activity factor" ––Most cats and dogs are pretty inactive most of the day. Therefore burning minimal calories often leads to slowing down of their metabolisms.
There are some medical conditions that also can lead to obesity including hypothyroidism, and hyperadrenocorticism.

In addition, since hunting, exploring their territory, and sometimes socializing is limited in the household pet, eating becomes "something enjoyable to do".

The reasons for obesity can vary but in all cases, caloric intake exceeds calories burned.

Please remember obesity is a treatable problem. The first step is to see your veterinarian in order to rule out other medical problems. Discuss your pet’s lifestyle and design a simple strategy to aid in weight loss. Severe restrictions in food can be dangerous. Your veterinarian will have a safe effective approach to weight loss. Every pet is different and adjustments to the diet may be necessary in order to lose weight gradually. The goal is approximately 1-2% of the initial body weight per week until your pet approaches the ideal body weight.

Presented by Jeanette Cole, D.V.M. at Gulf Gate Animal Hospital, 941.922.3917.


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