As vets, it is one of the most common conditions we come across on a day to day basis, and it is one which is sometimes very difficult to discuss. Obesity is not just a condition affecting humans, but is now being seen far too often within our pet population. However, there seems to be a great stigma when it comes to discussing pet’s weight, understandably, as no-one wants to hear their beloved pet is overweight.
Adipose tissue is the scientific name for the fat which is deposited around the body. We all need fat in order to survive, and our pets are no different. However, if our pets have too much fat laid around their bodies, they have an increased risk of developing certain conditions, which can become life-threatening. If they are significantly overweight our pets are at risk of diabetes mellitus, more likely to develop osteoarthritis as they grow older, as well as the potential of developing serious and complicated cardiovascular disorders.
As cats and dogs vary, and breeds vary dramatically also, we have to use a novel way to say if animals are over or underweight. Body Condition Scoring is a guide which looks at layering of adipose tissue within different regions on an animals body, thus allowing us to determine if they are an ideal weight or not. The two most commonly looked at areas are 1) over the ribs, and 2) around their waistline.
- With the ribs, our aim is to be able to feel them without pressing too hard on the ribs. If we cannot feel them at all, we need to start thinking about starting a diet for the pet. If we can feel too much, we need to up their caloric intake.
- With the waist, we like to see a nice a nice indentation or curve between the chest and waist. Some breeds do not actually get this curve, so again we need to allow for breed and pet’s variability.
At Pennard vets we take your pet’s weight very seriously. Increasing exercise is something which is always recommended, but in certain situations is either not possible or not practical. To help with weight loss, we can use specifically formulated diets to help our pets lose weight. Any low calorie or ‘light’ version of pet food will help in some way. But we do also have a specifically formulated diet to help. These diets are still formulated and balanced, so your pet gets all the nutrients they need, but has the caloric restriction required to help our them lose weight. We have many pets currently consistently losing weight because of it.
To allow us to give out the best advice, we run weight clinics, in which you are able to discuss diets at great length with one of our qualified nurses. This means you receive all the information you need in order to help your pet’s weight loss. It could be simple advice on portion control, or maybe more complicated with changing diets. Either way our qualified nurses are more than capable of assisting you make these decisions on behalf of your pet.
If you would like to break the stigma and discuss your pet’s weight, please contact your local Pennards Practice, and one of our vets or qualified nurses will be more than happy to help with any dietary questions you may have.