With 41 per cent of dogs and 32 per cent of cats overweight or obese, obesity is fast becoming the most common form of malnutrition in Australian pets today.

Why is obesity dangerous to our pets?

• Overweight pets suffer more physical ailments and tend not to live as long as those of a healthy weight
• Obesity often reduces a pet’s enjoyment of life, its performance and the owner’s enjoyment of the pet.
• Obesity can cause or worsen:
o Arthritis, hip dysplasia, back or spinal disc problems and ligament rupture.
o Lung, heart and liver disease
o Diabetes.
o Constipation.
o Increased risk of problems with surgery and anaesthesia.
o Heat intolerance.
o Skin disease.
o Mental irritability.
o Susceptibility to infectious diseases.
o Exercise intolerance.

What causes obesity?

Obesity in animals is usually caused by excessive food intake and lack of exercise. If given the opportunity most dogs will eat as much as they physically can. Cats, on the other hand, are better at regulating their own food intake but many are overly fond of food and therefore eat in excess of their daily requirements. Other contributing factors such as old age, breed of pet and some medical problems can also increase the chance of your pet being overweight.
Is my pet overweight?

All pets have an ideal weight for their size and breed. Your vet or veterinary nurse will be able to tell you what this is for your pet.
A good guide, other than the general appearance of your animal, is the amount of fat cover over the ribs. If your pet is thin or normal, the ribs will be easier to see. With overweight animals the ribs are difficult to feel. Some overweight animals, especially cats, may have a pendulous abdomen.

How can obesity be managed?
• Reducing calorie intake by feeding a low calorie, high fibre diet specially formulated for losing weight.
• Keep your pet away from food preparation areas and when family members are eating. Those sad puppy dog eyes will get you every time!
• Feed overweight pets separately from your other pets.
• Do not feed anything other than the amount of food prescribed.
• Exercise your pet regularly.
• Sign your pet up to Cairns Veterinary Clinic’s weight loss club.

Fully supported by our Veterinary Nurses, our complementary weight loss club is an individualised program for safe and gradual weight loss for your pet. In combination with exercise, behaviour modification and Hills Metabolic prescription diet we’ll have your pet back to a healthy weight in no time. Contact one of clinic’s for more details.