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Obesity in pets causes similar issues as it does in humans. Carrying extra weight causes strain on the joints, and obese pets are more likely to develop arthritis than those who are of a healthy weight. Other health conditions that may increase with obesity in pets include diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure and kidney disease as well as some forms of cancer. While pets of healthy weights can develop diseases due to genetics or old age, obesity increases the likelihood that your pets will suffer from necessary conditions.
Furthermore, you need to consider the quality of life when it comes to obesity of animals. Although you might think you're making your dog happy by feeding her table scraps or bonding with your kitty when you feed him too many treats -- and pets are known to beg even when they're not hungry -- you might be increasing their waistline and not their happiness. Obese pets can become sedentary, which makes it even harder for them to achieve a healthy weight. Pets that are especially obese may struggle when attempting to climb or jump, fitting through pet doors or even using the litter box.
Although weighing your pet gives a good indicator of whether he is large for his breed and species, a visual check also provides information. Cats and dogs, for example, should have an hourglass figure from above. Their shoulders and hips should be wider than their abdomen area. An obese pet will tend to look wider in the center than near the hips and shoulders, and there will be no visible indentations. At Jane Animal Hospital we sell special diets to help them lose weight and they should be seen with us to monitor their health.
When you look at your pet from the side, their stomach should not hang low to the ground. Instead, you'll see it tuck back up near the hind legs. When you run your hand over your pet's side, you should be able to feel its ribs and even count them. If you can feel ribs but have difficulty counting them, then your pet is a little overweight. If you cannot feel their ribs at all, your pet might be obese.
Helping an obese pet become healthier can be fun for them. Playing with a string, ball, or other toy burns calories. You can even still give a few treats if you place them in foraging toys, which force your pet to be active to retrieve the treat. Contact the Jane Animal Hospital at 416-762-5558 if you're worried about your pet's weight and health.