According to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHN), of which Anchor Animal Hospital is an accredited member, pet obesity has become an epidemic. Improper nutrition, too many treats, eating from the table, and other bad habits have contributed significantly to increased weight in both cats and dogs throughout the country. In one study, which was published by Banfield Pet Hospital, more than half of the adult dogs seen at their over 1,000 hospitals in 2019 were overweight. It is essential for New Bedford pet owners to be aware of the health risks associated with increased weight in pets and to work with their local South Coast veterinarian to properly treat the condition.

What is Considered Overweight for Pets?

For a human adult, putting on ten pounds might be troublesome but not problematic. However, for our pets, ten pounds is significant, regardless of the breed. A dog or cat is considered overweight if they are at least 10-20 percent heavier than their ideal weight. As pets age, they tend to become more sedentary, which can cause them to gain weight even without any change in diet or eating habits. It is possible to help your pet lose weight in a healthy way that can help to reduce the associated risks that come with being overweight or obese. Unfortunately, the same study also revealed that only ten percent of the pets diagnosed as being overweight lost weight, and nearly half of those who lost the weight gained it back again within a year.

The statistics gathered in this study can be extremely helpful to pet owners and veterinarians, as they struggle to help cats and dogs attain and maintain a healthy weight. Increased weight was determined to be more prevalent as pets get older, but only up until about seven years of age. The breed size can play a factor with smaller dogs being more overweight than larger breeds, yet losing weight and keeping it off more successfully than bigger pets. A direct link between increased weight gain and serious health conditions was also confirmed in this study. Some of the common issues experienced by cats and dogs include cardiovascular disease, metabolic abnormalities, endocrinopathies, and osteoarthritis.

Is Your Pet Overweight?

A healthy weight will look different on each breed, and mixed breed pets can be more challenging to identify as being overweight just based on sight. Your best bet is to bring your pet to your local Dartmouth vet hospital for a check-up to see how they are doing with their weight. If you suspect that your pet might be overweight, be prepared to discuss the type of food you are feeding them, the frequency, any treats or extra food that they might be eating, and their degree of exercise and activity. Your South Coast veterinarian can help you to determine the best course of action to maximize results without increasing health risks for your pet. A gradual weight loss is best, along with eating and exercise changes.

Other treatment options may be required, including spay and neutering or dental care for pets. Other health issues may also play a part in weight gain or inability to lose weight with diet and exercise changes. Your trusted veterinarian can run tests to identify any other concerns, including hypothyroidism, Cushing’s disease, some types of heart disease, and osteoarthritis. Of course, the best method is prevention, keeping your pet on a healthy diet from the time they are young and avoiding hidden calories through extra treats and table scraps. Nutritional needs cannot be gauged solely from a grid on the back of the pet food bag. Your feeding plan should consider the pet’s age, ideal weight, activity level, breed, and any health considerations that might limit activity.

Schedule an Appointment at Anchor Animal Hospital

If you are concerned about your pet’s weight or want to prevent weight gain in a more senior pet, New Bedford pet owners can contact our Dartmouth vet hospital to schedule an exam and speak with the veterinarian. We can suggest dietary changes, new activities, and other things that you can do to prevent weight gain or support weight loss for your cat or dog. Call today at 508-996-3731 to speak with one of our team members to schedule an appointment or to discuss options for check-ups, treatments, and dental care for pets.