Fat Cats and Fatter Dogs

Kapi-Mana News Pet Health Column Article for 3 July 2012

Written by Dr Ian Schraa, 03/07/2012

Just as there is an obesity epidemic in humans in Western nations there is a parallel problem occurring in the pet world.

More and more pets are overweight or clinically obese. To be clinically obese a pet is 15% or about 1/6th heavier than the ideal weight. For most cats this means about an extra 800g in weight. For an average large dog that should be about 30kg it means it is weighing in at 35kg.

The unfortunate thing is that because most pets do not feed themselves (some cats will steal other cat’s food), unlike humans, they are therefore not responsible for their weight problem. Their owners are.

As vets we hear all the excuses; “they don’t get that much”, “they like a bit of my toast each morning”, “they look so sad and hungry when I’m eating”.

Dogs will generally eat until they are bloated full. If you keep offering them food they will keep eating. In the wild they do not get it as easy. The grey wolf eats twice a week if they are lucky. And they have to use a lot of energy up during the hunt. Despite advertisements and marketing suggesting our pets are just like wild animals they are not. They do not face starvation very winter. They eat every day. They eat highly nutritious, energy dense food. And most certainly do not do enough exercise.

Obesity is the result of a basic imbalance of the amount of energy that goes in compared to the amount of energy being used. If your pet is overweight they are either being given too much food, not being exercised enough to burn it off, or more often than not, a combination of both.

The solution: fed less, exercise more. Not rocket science.

The sad thing is that when obesity causes diseases like diabetes, liver disease, pancreatitis, or aggravates problem such as arthritis, back problems or heart disease then the pet suffers. Their suffering was often preventable.

To help owners that are finding getting the weight down we have a weight reduction programme called FatBusters to help get people’s pets back to an ideal weight. Call us if you need a hand or advice to help your pet.

Our People

View all staff » Sharon Bourke

Sharon Bourke

Practice Co-ordinator
BSc (Waikato 2003)
Started at Rappaw in 2005

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