It is the ugly truth – the majority of pets that I see in my office are overweight. Some are so obese they can’t do much more than waddle, pant and lay still. These are the pets who are being slowly killed with kindness. Pet owners who can’t resist the big brown eyed sales pitch for another bite of table food or another treat are slowly helping their pet pack on unhealthy extra pounds. And this extra weight, overtime, contributes to a multitude of health problems including orthopedic disease.
I can tell you from experience that nothing will age a dog or cat faster than being overweight. Overweight pets don’t feel well. For them it is an effort to move around – playing soon become out of the question. Because their joints are overburdened with extra weight any orthopedic problems they have are magnified. Overtaxed joints and unfit muscles lead to a higher risk of orthopedic injuries such as torn cruciate ligaments and other soft tissue injuries. Overweight arthritic dogs and cats struggling with already degenerating joints have a more rapid progression of their clinical signs. As their joints worsen, their pain increases, and they become more sedentary. This becomes a vicious circle of less activity, more weight, more discomfort until they become morbidly obese and reluctant to move around at all.
The good news is that we can generally make a major impact on these pets by helping them lose weight. I will tell you though; the weight loss plan is as difficult for pet owners as it is for the pets. I tell my clients to “harden their hearts” against those heartfelt pleas for the left over steak or an extra treat. By decreasing the amount of calories a pet consumes and slowly increasing their exercise as they can, the weight will start to come off. I have seen overweight animals who require a daily dose of anti-inflammatories be able to massively decrease their need for medication as they lose weight.
While Petplan pet insurance can help you deal with the costly vet bills these hefty problems can cause, keeping your pet lean and fit will help avoid them all together. Lean fit pets are more active, less prone to injury and ultimately may live longer than their overweight counterparts. Help your overweight pet regain his youthful figure and you will give him a whole new lease on life!