How do I tell if my dog or cat is overweight?
An animal should have a recognisable waist both when looking down from above or looking from the side. The waist should be less than the chest area. The owner should be able to feel the ribs but not see the ribs. The backbone should not be prominent with good muscle coverage on both sides of the backbone. There should not be a heavy fat pad over the lower back area (same as our “love handles”). The belly should not sway when the animal is walking. If the belly of the animal is dragging on the ground that either means that the animal has had all its legs amputated or the animal is overweight.
How important is it to keep my dog from getting fat?
Very important. Dogs do not have cholesterol problems or heart problems associated with overweight but they do get a lot of back and joint problems associated with being overweight. Also in our hot climate the extra fat layer acts to overheat the animal and causes lots of skin problem.
Overweight animals are also prone to developing certain cancers called Lipomas associated with the extra fat layers.
How easy is it to get my animal to lose weight?
It is not easy to achieve a loss of weight and still have the animal healthy. Starvation is NOT the long term answer. Just not feeding your animal the right amount of food will actually activate the fat cells and have a tendency for the animal to store more fat when you stop starving the animal.
The first cells the body goes to for energy in a starvation situation is the muscle cells so when you start putting your animal on a strict diet the initial weight lost is muscle not fat.
We use and recommend special food that supplies the energy, supplies the right amount of protein and has a large amount of bulk to stop the dog getting hungry. Should you want to get your animal to lose weight then this is the food that we recommend.
If I just start to exercise my dog more, will that make it lose weight?
No. Exercise is important for the general health of the dog especially for the muscles, heart and lung systems. It is also enjoyable for the animal so it will benefit mentally as well as physically. But to lose weight depends on what the animal consumes nutritionally.
I feed only a small amount and my dog is still very fat.
There are medical conditions such as hypothyroidism that makes the animal store any energy in the form of fat. Before you start starving your dog it is best to test for these conditions. Once again we recommend that owners bring the animal to our animal hospital and get one of our veterinarians to “check out” the dog.
My cat will only eat certain type of food – is there a easy way I can put it on the weight reducing diet?
No. Cats can be very stubborn when it comes to food. Some cats will only eat certain brands of food and within that brand they will only eat certain types of food. For example I have seen cats only eat chicken based tinned food made by a certain company. They will starve to death if not fed that food.
It is best to try to mix some of the food you are trying to change over to very slowly. It can take up to a month before a cat will eat the weight reducing diet on its own.