Obesity has now become a common disease in humans. It increases the risk of other diseases concerning heart and blood pressure. Like humans, pets may get obese and consequently face other medical problems if they are overfed for a long time. Overfeeding your pets is a wrong decision and may even shorten their lives. Let's take a look at some reasons and how to avoid overfeeding.
1. Diseases associated with obesity
Overweight is related to many kinds of diseases as it causes extra fat, which puts a burden on organs such as the liver and heart. The common conditions that may be caused by excess fat are diabetes, heart disease, and increased blood pressure.
Like humans, obesity may also cause diabetes in pets. Typically, the body breaks down the sugar through insulin after we/pets eat or drink. The secretion of insulin increases in response to the increased blood glucose level for overweight pets. Extra fat demands more insulin, and when the ability to produce insulin cannot satisfy its demand, sugar diabetes develops. If it goes on for a very long period, it may lead to severe heart disease, kidney damage, and so on.
Heart disease and high blood pressure
Once fat in a body is increased, the capacity of blood circulation also increases. It ultimately puts pressure on the heart. For an overweight body, extra fat tends to cause increased blood pressure and lead to heart disease. In addition, extra fat in the pet's chest limits the expansion of the lungs and results in difficulty in breathing.
You must have observed that overweight cats and dogs move slower than normal ones. It is because too much weight can damage the joints and bones. In the long run, you may notice the development of arthritis, and the pain associated with joints changes also become severe. Extra weight and pain will lead pets unwilling and unable to move actively and fast.
2. How to tell if your pet is overweight?
Two of the easiest ways to tell if your dog is overweight are to feel for its ribs and look at its body shape from the side. If you can easily feel its ribs and they are not prominent, then the dog is fit. A fit and healthy dog has a fluent body curve, a defined waist, and no extra abdominal fat (see picture below).
Image Credit: Greencross Vets
3. Ways to avoid your pet from putting excess weight
Pets are primarily overweight because they are overfed by their owners. In this case, diet and exercise are the two most important keys. Now, if you are thinking about how you can avoid overfeeding your pet, here is the deal!
Choose food that contains nutrients your pets need and less fat, according to your vet. Set regular feedings for your pets, and you could try to use an automatic feeder. DO NOT leave food in the bowl all day as pets like to eat them all at once. With an automatic feeder, you can easily set regular feedings with exact servings, and you don't need to spend time keeping track of how much food your pet eats per day.
DO NOT give them extra treats just because you like to watch them eating or they are begging for it. For the latter, it will increase their begging behavior if they know they can get it. Keep track of how many snacks you give your pets per day as the sum of given snacks can be too much. You can also divide a treat into small pieces and only give one piece to your pet for one time.
Exercise is necessary because if your pets are inactive, they won't burn calories. Encourage your pet to exercise more or take them for a walk regularly. You can start with a short walk and choose different exercises depending on your dog's age and health. Moreover, swimming is a good exercise for dogs if you have a swimming pool. If your pet's joints and bones are badly damaged, please visit your vet for treatment in time.
Overfeed your cat or dog is no doubt bad for them as they may get overweight and may therefore get diseases like diabetes. In fact, overweight may shorten their lives which is even worse. A cat or dog that can run, jump, and rollover will be much happier. Remember to feed your pets with love, not excess food or snacks.