Obesity in cats and dogs is a growing problem and veterinarians say they are concerned about the impact it has on animals’ longevity and quality of life.
“I think it’s really important to remember that two pounds for a cat would probably equal 30 or 40 pounds of extra weight for a person,” said Kristy Hiltz, owner of Sherbrooke Heights Animal Hospital. Ten pounds extra for a dog, say a golden retriever, can be the same as 20 to 30 pounds of extra weight for a person, she added.
Lucy, featured in this story, is three years old. She weighs about 109 pounds — double what Hiltz says she should.
Lucy’s owner says she’s on a strict low-fat calorie diet, but that doesn’t stop Lucy’s counter-surfing habits. She often snatches food off the tables and counters and even eats the cat’s food.
According to veterinarian Stacey Dudman, more than 50 per cent of dogs and 60 per cent of cats are obese and the number one cause is overfeeding. She says it’s very easy to get carried away, especially when giving pets small treats.
“A little goes a long way,” Hiltz said, explaining that if a dog or cat eats nine kibbles every day for a year, that adds a pound of fat to the animal.
Hiltz say animals can easily hide their weight in their coats. But don’t let that fool you. It’s critical to keep your animal’s weight in check because studies show that keeping a pet lean can add two years to its life.
“With our weight loss success stories, we hear comments like she plays more, or he runs faster, or he’s happier, things like that,” Dudman said.
Dudman’s own dog, Lemon, has three legs, so it’s even more important for her to stay lean because she’s more prone to other injuries.
“Because her main weight is on one leg, she gets into risks factors with hurting her leg. Just like people, they can tear their ACL,” Dudman said.
Dudman says it is easier to prevent weight gain than it is to lose weight.
“Frequent weigh-ins is where you can start. It’s kind of doing two things at once. You’re getting used to your veterinary hospital and it’s not always a bad place,” Dudman said.
As far as Lucy goes, her owner says she’s regularly being monitored by a vet, and given no treats.