A pet’s weight can be a real worry, especially if your pet is a fussy eater. Their diet may not be the most suitable for them and this can leave them either overweight or underweight, both of which can affect their health. In this blog we will look at how to help your pet reach their ideal weight.
What can happen if my pet’s weight is too high?
Pets that carry extra pounds put a strain on the body, the same as humans do if they are overweight. Having an overweight pet can affect many parts of their body and even reduce the length of their life. The main areas of the body that too much weight can affect are:
- The muscles and joints – you may see your pet struggling to walk upstairs comfortably, looking stiff when rising from their bed, or even taking longer to walk than they would normally, even limping.
- Just as in humans, overweight pets can develop diabetes.
- The respiratory system finds it harder to cope, so you might have a pet that has difficulty breathing, pants a lot, or gets breathless very easy.
- Your pets coat may become noticeably unkempt, as they find it difficult to reach certain areas when they groom themselves.
- Having an overweight cat can increase the risk of them developing a case of cystitis.
- Extra weight can also put your pet at a higher anaesthetic risk, and the increased body fat can also lead to surgical complications during operations.
- Even the heart has to work harder to pump blood around the pet’s body, so it has extra strain on it.
What if my pet seems underweight?
Although weight management problems are generally pets that are overweight, some may be too light for their breed, age, etc.
Underweight pets are more susceptible to picking up illnesses and injuries. It could be they are simply a fussy eater, and the calorific content they are consuming is not enough to sustain them, or it may be a marker of some more serious underlying condition. The first step in managing an underweight pet is to determine whether there is a medical reason for it – so if you suspect your pet is underweight, please speak to a member of the team.
So what is the best food that I can feed my pet?
You can’t fail to notice there are literally hundreds of pet foods available – it is one of the biggest markets for our four-legged friends. Each pet of course is different, and they have different needs and tastes.
At the practice we generally recommend the HPM food range from Virbac, as it completely covers your pet’s nutritional needs. There is also an app with it that helps you keep on track with their diet.
The bottom line is not every food will suit every pet, but with information and advice, we can help ensure your pet gets the best nutrition. If you find your pet seems always hungry or ravenous, then please speak to us as this can indicate other health conditions, and we may need to do some tests.
How can I keep a check on their weight?
Firstly, you need to get an accurate weight for them to start with, so please get in touch with us so we can have them weighed – this will give us a great starting point. We take into consideration their breed and their age, and we can work out what their ideal weight should be. If they are not at their ideal weight, we can then put a plan together to help them reach their target, with regular weight checks.
We can advise you on nutrition and diet, exercise and give you the support to help them achieve, and importantly maintain, their target weight.
Another good way of checking is using the body condition score, which takes into account the shape of the animal, along with how much fat coverage they have over their ribs. A good resource for this can be found here, with several species of body condition score available.
Together we can help your pet reach their ideal weight and this will assist in keeping them in tip-top condition. If you are at all worried about your pets weight, you’re not alone – just get in touch with us at the practice.