Every third dog and every third cat in Germany suffers from obesity. These animals are limited in their movement and vitality and their health is adversely affected.
Since our animals cannot decide for themselves which and how much food is good for them, we, as owners, are responsible for them and it is up to us to change.
Please note! No animal - dog or cat - should lose weight too quickly, because the burning of adipose tissue may cause liver damage that can even lead to death!
How can I tell if my pet is overweight?
Take a good look at your four-legged friend and ask yourself the following questions: Is his waist visible? Is he well proportioned? Can I feel his vertebrae and ribs? Does my pet quickly run out of breath? Does he spend prolonged periods lying around and not have much interest in play? Is my pet no longer cleaning himself properly? All of these questions provide clues as to the possible obesity of your pet. We would be happy to advise you if you are not sure whether your pet is overweight.
What causes obesity?
If your pet is overweight, he has probably consumed more calories than he needs. The result is that more and more fat accumulates in the tissue. Maybe the food is too high in calories or you have simply given him too much of it. Often, people feed their pets too many treats - the nice neighbor is always carrying a "yummy," we "accidentally" drop something while cooking, or we feel guilty because we had to work so late and want to do "something nice" for our little one. All of this adds up throughout the day. In addition, your pet is less likely to enjoy exercise the more his weight increases and will therefore burn even fewer calories than before - a vicious cycle.
What are the most common feeding mistakes?
- Excessive energy content of the food. The food must match the lifestyle of the animal. A couch potato should be fed the "light" version rather than the "energy-rich" version.
- Excessive portions. The portion should not be estimated but should be measured according to the weight of your pet. Please note that when measuring portions, the amount of food should always be adjusted to the target weight. If a dog is too fat at 30 kg or a cat at 6 kg, we should not feed them the amount that is suitable for a 30 kg or 6 kg pet. This would only encourage further weight gain.
- Changed energy requirements. The energy needs of our four-legged friends do not remain constant throughout their lives; they change with age or after neutering, for example. If we continue to feed the same amounts as before, overweight is inevitable.
- Poor manufacturer's instructions. Unfortunately, a common problem is that the amount of food the manufacturer recommends is excessive or inaccurate. Usually, it is better to serve your pet less than the amount specified.
- Treats. We like to feed our pets lots of treats, and that is generally okay; it is important, however, to subtract the treats from the daily food ration instead of feeding them in addition to the full portion. We should also note the energy content of the treats - do we really have to give our pets a slice of salami, a piece of cheese, or a bull stick? Wouldn't they like a piece of chicken breast, dried fish, or even a piece of carrot just as well?
Can obesity occur as the result of illness?
Yes. There are diseases (e.g., metabolic disorders) which can lead to a change in weight. In these cases, a diet will, of course, not have any effect and will possibly even harm the animal. It is therefore important to ensure that your pet has regular check-ups, for example during the annual vaccination.
What are the consequences of being overweight?
Obesity should not be underestimated as it can have serious health consequences, such as cardiovascular problems, diabetes, skin diseases, liver diseases, joint diseases, and problems with the musculoskeletal system. In addition, the animal is more susceptible to infections and is at an increased risk of anesthetic complications due to the excess weight.
My pet is overweight - what can I do?
First, we need to take stock: How much does your pet really weigh? The exact weight is used as a reference value and is required to determine the correct amount of food. What does your pet really eat? Keep a food diary (one week should be sufficient to provide a realistic assessment) by writing down the exact amount and type of food your pet eats. Weigh the feed rations; all this will help uncover mistakes in feeding. Do not hesitate to seek help; we will be happy to advise you and assist in the evaluation of your food diary and in establishing a reasonable diet. Do not resign yourself to your pet being overweight. You can guide your pet towards a healthier life and thus a better quality of life.
Does my poor baby have to go hungry now?
No. The aim is to make a change in diet that is practical for you and your pet. First, we try to identify feeding mistakes; a small optimization of your feeding habits may go a long way. The change in diet is not the only measure; increasing exercise is also really important. This can be achieved by introducing longer walks, purposeful games, swimming, or food dispensing toys. There are special diets for the most severe cases. It is very important that the weight loss is gradual. Weight loss that is too rapid can be dangerous (especially in cats). A good guideline is 1% to a maximum of 3% of weight loss per week. Contact us and we will gladly advise you.
Do animals also suffer from the "yo-yo effect"?
Yes. That is why it is especially important to make a long-term change to the eating habits of our four-legged friends. After successful weight loss, we must not make the same mistakes again and start showering our pets with treats. We must constantly pay attention to what our pet eats. A switch to a suitable "light" food may be useful in preventing overweight in the future.