Obesity – A growing problem!
Like us animals can also suffer from obesity, although unlike us this is not necessarily their choice. The ideal body condition of dogs and cats can be assessed by running your fingers across the back and body, you should be able to feel the ribs and spine but not see them, and they should nip in at the waist.
In overweight cats you will often see a tummy that hangs down particularly between the back legs. Overweight dogs tend to distribute their weight more evenly across the body.
It is important to remember that for every cm of fat lying underneath the skin there will also be the same surrounding the heart and abdominal organs which can make it harder for these organs to work effectively. The other major issue is the extra pressure on the animal’s joints. Many animals suffer with osteoarthritis or other forms of joint disease, any extra weight on their bodies means extra weight for their joints to carry.
This can also be a problem for rabbits, as they are commonly fed too much commercial rabbit mix and not enough hay and grass. An overweight rabbit will find it difficult to clean itself or eat its poo (which is necessary for a rabbit to digest its food properly).
The first step of a weight loss program is to reduce the quantity of food fed, I often recommend reducing the amount fed in a 24-hour period by at least one quarter initially. If this is not helping or the animal is too hungry it would be wise to switch to a calorie controlled light diet, many of which are available in pet shops. If the animal is still not losing weight it would be wise to seek veterinary help. Our nurses are great sources of knowledge and offer free weight clinics to assist in the process. If they feel there may be an underlying medical reason they will discuss this with one of our vets.