obesity in pets

Obesity – “Too much love can kill”

“Too much love can kill”, we all, at some point have heard this phrase. It can also be applied to caring for our pets. We love them so much that we indulge them in everything they want, especially food, which causes obesity. What we don’t realize instead of giving them the life they want, obesity can affect the quality of life they can have and shorten the lifespan of our dear animals.

Obesity leads to all sorts of diseases as the body can not function in a proper way with the excess amount of fat around organs, weighing on joints and slipping close veins and arteries. These diseases include diabetes, joints problems, high blood pressure, respiratory disease, and heart failure. All nasty and requiring a lot of extra care and causing much sorrow.

What is causing our pets to be obese?

Number 1 and just as in humans, the main reason causing obesity is food. We should be more disciplined when feeding our pets. Do not be swayed to give them more when they’re giving us their famous “puppy look”. Rewards do not have to exist of food only, a hug, a praise or an extra walk or grooming session will also lead to building up that special relationship with your Pet and to the desired behavior.

“Too” before a phrase is never a good start.
Number 2 is too little exercise. Indoor pets are more prone to have this kind of problem. And especially here in the UAE, it is more prevalent due to the hot weather not really encouraging us to go out for a brisk walk with our Dogs. Moreover, this can be dangerous in itself. Therefore when you know your pet gets little exercise, adjust the food amount and look out for a place/solution to exercise your dog indoors. There are many Kennels who offer special Playday, or Dog Day Care and even have treadmills for dogs to at least get into a run regularly.

Number 3 is due to health problems, hormonal imbalance, joint disease, special medication, it all adds up and special precautions need to be taken in those cases.


How can we avoid Obesity?

Know what food to give and in what quantity. Your Vet or their nursing staff will happily assist you to choose and calculate in the interest of your pet. Good food allows your pet the pleasure of eating, causes satiety and still provides all important nutrients per feeding. Besides this, it maximizes intestinal performance and creates less stool (very important in a City environment) without adding to weight gain if fed in the correct amount and frequency.
Exercise your pet regularly with respect for his/her ability and the weather outside. Exercise is a good time to bond with your pet and secure their healthy lifestyle at the same time. With cats, spend some time to play with them, groom them and give them some challenges by hiding food in little boxes for them to toss around causing it to spill some food as a reward or releases some exciting scents.
Buy toys that are healthy and not risky for them to play.
If you have an indoor pet, adding one to the family might be a good idea. At least when no one’s at home they can play with each other and be active all day.

How to know if your pet is obese?

The first thing to do is go for a checkup and see how your pet is doing. In the clinic, your vet can tell if the body condition of your pet is good for his breed. But the easiest way to assess is to palpate the ribs of your pet. If you can still feel it without too much fat your pet has a normal weight.

Obesity is very common in UAE as it is a very hot and humid country. But a responsible owner can prevent this situation by knowing where you can have an exercise together and by consulting with your Veterinarian with the proper diet for them. It is better to avoid this problem than dealing with it.


Written by veterinary nurse Evangeline Santos