Health Concerns with Overweight Pets

          What affects people can also deeply affect your pet’s health. Weight gain is no different. Overweight cats are becoming much more common and are seen more often in veterinary practice. Overweight dogs run into the same health risks so it is essential that all pet owners be made aware of  them. Some of the more common medical issues we see and how they affect your pet are as follows:

 Diabetes Mellitus

       Extra weight causes an increase in the secretion of insulin responding to increased blood glucose level in overweight pets. When requirements for insulin exceed the body’s ability to produce insulin diabetes develops.

 Damage to Joints/Bones/Ligaments

        Excess weight puts strain on the joints and ligaments causing possibility of damage. Most ligament damage requires surgery to repair. You should also be aware of certain breeds such as dachsunds and basset hounds which are prone to disc disease.

 Heart Disease/Increased Blood Pressure

         As in people, the heart has to work harder to do it’s job when there is extra weight being carried. This could potentially lead to chronic heart failure.

 Breathing Difficulty

          Additional fat in the chest and abdomen restricts expansion and especially adds more demand to supply oxygen.

 Decreased Stamina

           Carrying extra weight makes the heart, muscles and respiratory system work harder so animals feel less energetic.

 Heat Intolerance

            Fat acts as an insulator so it is more difficult for overweight animals to regulate their body temperature.

 Decreased Liver function

             Liver stores fat so it can build up decreasing function.

 Anaesthetic Risk

              Anaesthetics are taken up by fat so it would take longer to wake up because it must be removed from fat by the body. A fatty liver would not be as effective in removing anaesthetic. Recovery would then occur much slower.

 Digestive Disorders

              Constipation increases as does flatulence.

 Decreased Immune Function

                Although the cause is unknown, obesity is associated with decreased resistance to infections. 

 Skin/Hair Coat Problems

                Skin/hair coat diseases increase in overweight patients. Skin folds create pockets that accumulate oils and increase infection development.

 Cancer Risks Increase

                Mammary and bladder cancers increase with obesity but the cause is unknown.

 Bottom Line

                 If we avoid these ‘eyes’ and ‘cries’ for more food, we can lengthen the lives of our pets and make sure that they remain healthy and happy throughout that life. Dietary management and an active lifestyle are the key.  Feel free to call us and set up an appointment to discuss your pet’s body condition score, diet, and exercise level.  You can reach us at (905) 727-3003.

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