Dr. Melissa Meehan: No vet likes to tell an owner that their beloved furr kid is carrying too much weight. But when you consider that over 30% of Australian pets are either overweight or obese - awkward conversations about the subject are becoming common place.
Overweight pets are unhealthy pets - their at increased risk of joint disease, heart disease, pancreatitis, diabetes just to name a few. Now these things not only reduce the quality of a pets life but they’re also very costly for the owner to treat and maintain. Obesity affects just about every health problem in pets and a lot of owners don’t realise this.
Just like us pets gain weight when there is an imbalance between calorie input and calorie output, but why does the imbalance exist? Well for one we’re a lot busier these days, we’ve got a lot of responsibilities and a lot of things to do and taking a dog for a walk becomes a lower priority. Also we are keeping our dogs and cats indoors more these days. Now that’s a good thing for cats but it can lead to a decrease in incidental exercise.
When it comes to dogs and children we all know where they tend to sit - underneath the high chair or under the table waiting for that morsel of food from a tiny hand. I know that’s really hard to avoid as is pleading eyes... but what you need to remember is what might seem like a treat for us could be the calorie equivalent of an entire meal for them! For example this cookie here which Hudson is focused on is the equivalent of an entire hamburger for me and for a cat this piece of cheddar cheese is the equivalent of two hamburgers. This full cream milk here is equivalent of three hamburgers, so you can see why obesity is just so common.
Your vet is the best person to assess your pets weight. The reason being that there’s so much variability among breeds and what’s acceptable in terms of weight ranges. So what we do is we use a body condition score as well as their actual weight to assess them.
Let's have a look at you Hudson… if you would stay still. Well his ribs are quite palpable and he’s got a nice little waist and his abdominal fat is pretty much non-existent. There’s still a little bit there but compared to last season he’s looking pretty trim. So Hudson i’d reckon I’d be happy to say you’re a 5 out 9. Where 5 is actually ideal! 9 is obese and 1 is severely underweight, so you’re doing well!
If your pet is diagnosed as being overweight your vet will put together a detailed weight loss plan - to ensure they can reach their ideal weight in the appropriate time. You need to make sure weight loss is controlled and slow and most clinics are very happy to support you through the process with weekly weigh-ins and nurse follow ups.
As always prevention is far better than the cure. So to keep your pet happy and healthy speak to your vet! And to find out more about how Hif’s pet insurance can help you cover your pet for any unexpected illnesses check out their website!