The dangers of obesity in pets – Kathorus Mail

Posted: January 3, 2021 at 9:57 pm

MY pet has a big build or my pet has a lot of fur certainly are statements of denial. Fat camouflaged as fur is still fat. The ideal dog or cat has a tucked-in tummy and the ribs are easy to feel, but not visible.

If the waistline is lost and you can feel a layer of fat over the ribs it is a sure sign of trouble.

Medical side effects

As in humans, pets also risk medical complications when they are overweight.


Excess weight puts more stress on the joints, which causes your pet pain, reduces their mobility and can result in lameness. This becomes a vicious cycle, as less activity causes more weight gain and more stress on already aching joints.

Diabetes mellitus

Excess body weight causes insulin resistance in pets too.

Respiratory and heart problems

A fat pets heart has to work much harder to pump blood to where it is needed, and there is a lot more fat to get through. Excess fat in and around the chest cavity also makes breathing a lot more difficult.

Surgical and anaesthetic risk

If your pet has to have surgery or receive medication, drug doses become less accurate as it is difficult to estimate the patients lean mass. In fat pets, cardiac and respiratory suppression is greater under anaesthetic. Surgery becomes more difficult and takes longer to complete.

Shorter lifespan

Studies conducted on groups of pets showed pets that were fed a restricted diet to keep them lean, lived two years longer than groups of pets who were overfed.

Dieting dos and donts

If your pet is classified as obese, you will need your vets help to treat it. Typically a vet will place your pet on a prescription obesity diet with reduced calories. This kind of diet will be formulated to keep your pet feeling fuller for longer. It also helps to maintain lean muscle while using up fat cells.

Your vet will require regular weigh-ins and guide you on how to correctly feed and exercise your pet. Feeding less of your pets usual diet is not advised as this can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies. If you feed your pet less of its usual diet your pet may lose weight, but will start having skin and other malnutrition problems due to these deficiencies.


A cookie or a piece of cheese may seem like a little treat, but its like a whole meal for dogs. Just one little cookie as fed to a dog around the weight of 10kg is the human caloric equivalent of one whole hamburger for an average sized woman.

Thirty grams of cheddar cheese is the equivalent of two and a half hamburgers. In cats, 30g of cheddar cheese is the equivalent of two and a half burgers. One cup of milk is the equivalent of three hamburgers and not only causes weight gain but can also lead to an upset stomach. Too many unhealthy snacks add up fast!

Exercise is essential

Unfortunately light diets are not enough. They may well prevent weight gain in less active animals, but ultimately exercise is the only route to aid in weight loss. The main cause of obesity is the imbalance between the energy that goes in and the energy expended in daily activities.

All pets need exercise, but these days our pets mirror our sedentary lifestyles. Our yards have become smaller and we spend less time exercising them, if at all. A large yard does not replace a good walk on the leash or an encouraged game of fetch in the park.

Rewarding good behaviour

Treats can form part of a healthy diet relationship. A good idea is to use part of your pets daily food ration, such a kibbles, as a treat. Only treat when you are training, playing games or encouraging good behaviour. It is not necessary to treat your pet every time, as attention is just as a valuable resource and an affectionate pat on the head or a hug will also be gladly received.

Killing with kindness

It cannot be stressed enough that the extra treats and the extra weight are causing lasting damage to your pets internal organs, bones and joints. Sadly some of these consequences can never be remedied even with a change in diet and exercise.

Its best to instill healthy routines and nutritional meals in your pets life from the start. Feeding a pet scraps from the table encourages them to beg and makes it harder for you to say no to their begging and cute puppy eyes. You might feel sorry for your pet, but you are doing them more harm than good, and making sure they do not beg at the dinner table from the start is the best thing you can do for them.

If you are concerned about your pets weight to get a professional opinion from your nearest vet, who will be able to help you with correct feeding and exercise schedules.

Vinkel and Koljander.

Paw five! Woof!

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The dangers of obesity in pets - Kathorus Mail

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