With all the focus on the obesity epidemic currently facing America’s adults and children, another story has largely been ignored: our pets are suffering too! In fact, animal hospitals have seen an increase in the number of cases of heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes—all of which can often be linked to an animal’s weight. Working with a qualified veterinarian, pet owners can take several steps to address this issue and prevent it from getting worse.
Before taking matters into their own hands, it’s important for pet owners to consult with a veterinarian to assess the animal’s overall health status. Take your pet to a veterinary clinic and request that tests be done to rule out any underlying causes of the animal’s weight gain. Such tests may include:
- Thyroid function test: An underactive thyroid can sometimes slow metabolism.
- Glucose tolerance test: When this is abnormal, an issue with carbohydrate metabolism or pancreatic function may be present.
As with their human counterparts, overweight animals tend to consume more food than is necessary for their lifestyle. Some pet foods today are loaded with calories, so it is important for pet owners to read product labels and measure portions appropriately. Though no vet would recommend severe caloric restriction, gradual reductions in food intake can help achieve steady weight loss. Recommendations for restricting calories may include:
- Smaller, more frequent meals to keep metabolism high.
- Increased protein consumption, with a corresponding reduction in carbohydrate intake.
- Eliminating treats.
When it comes to exercise, the same advice typically given to adults is applicable to pets as well: start slow and gradually increase the intensity. Stick to a consistent schedule and notify your vet immediately if the animal shows any signs of breathing trouble or excessive fatigue.
If you are concerned that your pet may have a weight problem and would like to speak to a vet, contact the staff at Gully Animal Hospital by calling (817) 756-6733. Our dedicated team will work with you to normalize your animal’s weight and avoid potentially serious health complications.