Diet, nutrition, overweight, under weight, exercise, pounds, hormonal, thyroid, metabolism, neuter, spay, age, senior, respiratory, joints, hypertension, diabetes, digestive, liver, cancer
It is not uncommon for one of my clients to be utterly surprised when they discover that their dog or cat's weight has toppled the scale either up or down. Why didn't they notice the change? It's because it often occurs little by little, day by day, right before their eyes.
An increase in weight can be due to the obvious. Too many treats in and not enough exercise. Even if you think that you are practicing great portion control, over nutrition can easily take place. A cup of food to one person is not enough to the next. So they give a little more. You only give `a' treat, while the next overly generous family member gives two or three. Extra calories add up very quickly. Did you know that a one pound weight gain for a Chihuahua is similar to a one hundred and twenty five pound woman gaining thirty one pounds?
There are also several less blatant explanations for an increase in a pet's girth. Hormonal conditions such as an underactive thyroid, hypothyroidism or hyperadrenocorticisim, Cushing's disease, can affect metabolism. Neutering also has metabolic consequences. Studies have shown that when a pet undergoes a castration or an ovariohysterectomy, the rate at which they expend energy is decreased by almost 30%. A neutered pet still incurs many more positive effects than the negative so I continue to be a strong proponent of these procedures.
Advancing age can also be responsible for your pet packing on the pounds. As we age we start to lose lean muscle. Muscle requires a great deal of energy in order to function properly. Less muscle means less need for calories. Don't be fooled into feeding your pet the same amount you did when it was younger and carried the same weight. Its energy needs have scaled downwards.
An increase in weight can pose serious health threats to your pet. An overweight pet can have respiratory issues, a compromised immune system, be at increased risk for anesthesia, grapple with skin disorders, and suffer with pain from overburdened joints or spinal disc disease. Studies have shown that overweight pets age faster and have a decreased quality of life.
Weight loss can be just as serious. You may think that your cat has found the fountain of youth. It is eating more, running around like a kitten and is losing weight. In reality, your cat may be a victim of an overactive thyroid. If left untreated, hypertension, sudden blindness and cardiac issues may ensue.
Conditions such as diabetes mellitus, digestive disorders, liver malfunction, cancer and even dental disease can cause a pet to inexplicably lose weight and condition.
How can you tell if your pet is fit? As your pet is standing, you should see an indentation after its ribcage, its waistline. Place your hand on the side of its chest. With light pressure, you should be able to feel the ribs. If you are pinching an inch, it is overweight. If the ribs are very overly prominent, it may be undernourished. Which food and how much is appropriate for your pet's stage of life? Your veterinarian is best qualified to make these determinations with your assistance. But requirements will change. Make a twice yearly wellness examination for your pet. This simple act can increase the chances that your dog or cat will age successfully.
Daily Pet News
USDA Shuts Down Puppy Mill
Lizards' Camouflage Reveals Evolution in Action
Cobra Venom Erases Arthritis Symptoms
"Angel" the Golden Retriever Tussles with Cougar, Saves Boy's Life
Denim May Guard Against Rattlesnake Bites
Pandas attempt to mate at National Zoo (AP)
The Hollywood A-list behind militant anti-whaling group (AFP)
Rare Wild Tiger and Cubs Captured on Video
Fla.'s big chill: Manatees huddle, turtles stunned (AP)