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Is your pet overweight? Three steps you can take to help!

Is your pet overweight? Three steps you can take to help!

Weight-management in dogs and cats

Sure, a pudgy kitty or pooch is cute. What's NOT cute is when your pudgy fur baby's health starts to take a toll due to them being overweight. Obesity is as much a problem in pets as it is in humans. If a person is overweight, the consequences may be serious and even fatal - the same applies to animals.

How to tell if your pet is overweight

Many pets these days are overweight, without their owners even realising it! It's important for pet owners to regularly check to see if their pets are at a healthy weight. Pet obesity is a serious issue that comes with long-term health risks, so you need to be mindful about managing their weight. Even if you think that your pet is at a healthy weight, we recommend that you still routinely test to see if they are in fact at a healthy weight.

Dr. Jim Dobies, a member of the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association and veterinarian gives us a simple way to see if your pet is overweight: 

"The best way is to stand above pets and look down on them. You should be able to feel their ribs but not see them. If you can see them, they are too skinny.. If you can’t see their ribs, and place your hands on the side of their chest and still can’t, they’re overweight.. Both dogs and cats should also have a nice taper at their waist (between the abdomen and where the hips go into the socket). If there is very little or none at all, they are too heavy and they’ll be oval shaped. They’ll be egg shaped rather than hourglass.. And a very obese pet will have a pendulous abdomen, hip fat, and neck fat, all of which are very noticeable.” - www.petmd.com

Dangers of pet obesity

Many vets have publicly stated that the number one health problem faced by pets is obesity and that more than half of their patients are overweight pets. This is a huge problem because obese pets are at risk of a number of health issues, which are often long-term and can be life-threatening. Perhaps if more pet parents were aware of the health risks of pet obesity, they would take better care to manage their pet's weight.

Here are the top health risks of overweight pets:

  • Shorter lifespan
  • Arthritis
  • Heart disease
  • Depression
  • Breathing problems
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Insulin resistance
  • Liver problems
  • Low immune system
  • Cancer

What you can do to help your dog or cat lose weight

1) FEED THEM A HEALTHY DIET

Overfeeding your pets, or feeding them too many unhealthy treats/snacks, is one of the main causes for pet obesity. The problem then does not lie with the animal itself, but rather with the owner. Responsible pet owners ensure that their pet gets a healthy and balanced diet (see: Healthy, organic pet food and treats), as well as sufficient exercise to burn off the calories and keep their metabolism active. Healthy pets are fed twice daily, with the correct amount of food for their size. You should also ensure that your pet's digestive system is functioning optimally so that they can effectively process all the food that they consume (see Digestive Support: Natural remedy for pet digestive health).

2) MAKE SURE YOUR PET GETS ENOUGH EXERCISE

A sedentary lifestyle will cause anybody, including animals, to gain weight. Even if your pet is consuming a healthy diet, lack of movement can result in an overweight pet! Your pet must burn more calories than he or she consumes, otherwise, the pounds will just add on! Dogs love running around parks, chasing balls and playing with interactive dog toys. Try giving your dog at least 30 minutes of exercise at least 5 days per week. While cats are unlikely to enjoy parks or going for walks with you, they absolutely love, and benefit from, playing with interactive cat toys on a daily basis.  

3) TAKE THEM FOR A MEDICAL EXAMINATION

If your pet is living a healthy, active lifestyle, there may be an underlying medical issue causing them to gain weight. Possible concerns could be Cushing's disease or hypothyroidism.

Cushing's disease is also known as hyperadrenocorticism and is characterised by the over-production of hormones from the adrenal glands. The extra high levels of these hormones in your pet’s body can cause varied and serious symptoms, including appetite increase and weight gain. Over time, if not well-controlled, Cushing’s disease can increase your pet's risk of other conditions including diabetes, weakening of the heart and nervous system disease!

Many herbs and natural remedies can safely and effectively support your pet’s general health and help to reduce the symptoms of Cushing’s disease. Cushex Drops contain a blend of both herbal and homeopathic ingredients specially selected to treat Cushing’s in pets. Each ingredient of this natural remedy has a specific role to play in normalising adrenal function, balancing corticosteroid levels or reducing the troublesome symptoms of this condition.

Thyroid conditions such as an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) could be the underlying reason as to why your pet may be overweight. If you notice that your pet is packing on the pounds, shedding hair (see Skin & Coat Tonic: Supports dog & cat skin health & shiny coat) and looking weak or lethargic, it could indicate that your pet has an under active thyroid. 

If you suspect that your pet is showing signs of an under active thyroid or notice a change in their behaviour, consult your vet for a thorough examination. Supplement with Kelp to keep your pet’s thyroid healthy and balanced. Hypothyroidism can also cause your pet to have a suppressed immune system. Keep your pet’s immune system healthy and strong with a natural immune-boosting remedy called Immunity & Liver Support. This herbal remedy cleanses and purifies the system, improves immune functioning, acts as a general tonic and also helps your pet to recover quickly after illness. Don't forget to encourage your pet to exercise as often as possible and feed them a healthy, balanced and organic diet!

If you have any pet health question, please contact our team or leave a comment below for FREE health advice. We always love hearing from you!

Saskia Michele natural holistic pet health blog

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