OBESITY AND OVERWEIGHT: AN UNDERESTIMATED PATHOLOGY

28/10/2021
Veterinary advice, Dog, Cat

You often see photos of overweight cats and dogs, which look a bit funny because of the positions they assume for their weight, but if you look closely at this problem, there is probably little to smile about.

Overweight and obesity in our four-legged friends is a very common condition and very risky for the animal and often takes on serious characteristics due to the related diseases it can induce.

It is estimated that almost 50% of our pets suffer from overweight and obesity and unfortunately most owners do not recognise it as a pathology either because they are unaware of it or because they sometimes prefer not to take it into consideration. It is therefore very important to raise awareness and to be aware of the secondary pathologies that this problem can induce.

First and foremost are the articular pathologies, the symptoms of which are certainly more evident to owners because they lead to difficulty in movement, stiffness and pain in performing even simple movements such as getting into the car or climbing stairs. In cats, joint pain is not always recognisable, as it is often attributed to laziness why they always stay still on the sofa or why they no longer jump on chairs and furniture as they did in the past. These are all red flags to look out for, and when their weight is too high, symptoms and pain can get worse. Compare this with us humans and think of the feeling you get from carrying a heavy rucksack on your shoulders, the stress on the joints in your legs - the extra kilos have the same effect on your dog or cat's paws.

As with humans, obesity and excess weight predispose to subtle cardiovascular pathologies that can lead to respiratory problems, which are most evident when your dog or cat has to run or generally deal with physical exertion, whether brief but intense or even mild in the most serious cases.

In addition, in overweight dogs and cats, inflammatory phenomena are generally more serious and more difficult to manage, so it is essential to bear in mind how the diet of dogs and cats must be well managed from the earliest stages of life.

Here are some simple rules to follow carefully:

1. Choose the right food for your dog/cat, their lifestyle and metabolism. Ask your vet or retailer for advice. If the weight problem is already present, choose food with a low calorie content to help the consumption of excess fat (such as our AequilibriaVet Functional Weight).

2. Always weigh the food in accordance with the tables on the packaging, which give a rough indication of the daily intake.

3. Use snacks in moderation and, if you use more, always remember to reduce the amount of kibble or wet food you usually give, so as not to exceed the calories.

4. Exercise every day to maintain an active metabolism and adequate fitness, both for you and your pet!

5. In your cats' case, find stimulating activities, such as games or similar, to keep them active and on the move.

Always remember to visit your vet from time to time to carefully assess your pet's weight. He will be able to use the BCS (Body Condition Score), a method of physical assessment of your dogs/cats, to tell you whether or not they are at a healthy weight and decide how best to approach the problem.

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