It isn’t just for humans anymore. The obesity epidemic is growing in our pet’s as well. In this blog entry, Dr. Savier, addresses how to identify the problem, the conversation to have with your vet, and the steps to take to a healthier lifestyle for your pet.

Obesity

A Nationwide Crisis

by Dr. Eileen Savier CVA, CVCH

Obesity – A pet is considered obese when it weighs 20% or above their ideal body weight.

Prevalence –  20-30% of dogs are obese. Of these 40-50% are older than five years of age.

Risks – Even being a moderately overweight dog puts your pup at increased risk for diabetes, cancers (all types), heart disease, hypertension, arthritis, urinary bladder stones, reduced heat tolerance, and anesthetic complications. Overweight dogs typically die two years earlier than their lean counterpart.

 

How do I know?

If you are not sure if your pet is overweight or obese – talk to your veterinarian. I like to bring this up at annual appoints, so there is time to discuss strategies about weight loss. During sick visits, I may mention the problem, but will tackle that when your pet is feeling well. The scoring chart below will give you a good idea if there is a significant problem.

What do we do?

The first step is to admit there is a problem and the next is to examine why your pup is overweight or obese. In most cases, I see an abundance of food and treats combined with a sedentary lifestyle as the main culprits. There are some conditions that cause pets to put on weight (chronic steroid use, Cushings disease, and Thyroid issues to name a few), so if a change to diet fails, we will consider lab testing to see if there is a medical problem.

Image result for body condition score dogs

“But the back of the bag said…” is commonly what I hear. Let me tell you something – the back of the bag isn’t right and even if it was, you have to be measuring (and not with a BIG GULP cup – as I once asked to see the size of the cup an owner was using to measure) the food into the bowl, taking into account additional treats or table scraps, exercise, the age of your pet and concurrent medical conditions (even spay/neuter status). Even long lasting toys like busy bones and dental chews need to be accounted for in  the total amount of calories.

Walking dogs does not burn a lot of calories and if it did, I would walk everyday versus doing even one minute of a cardio workout! Dogs need rigorous exercise to maintain a lean body weight.

If you determine that your dog is obese, discuss a treatment plan with your veterinarian. We want your pet to lose the weight, but we want it done safely. Some pets are so overweight that traditional exercise is not safe – as it may cause trouble breathing and hyperthermia. We also do not want to restrict calorie intake so much that your pet becomes ill. Weight loss is a problem – just like a broken leg – and we will develop a treatment plan that fits you and your pet best!

Here’s to Your Pet’s Health – Dr. Eileen

About Dr. Eileen Savier

Dr. Eileen SavierBarks & Recreation is proud to feature Dr. Eileen Savier CVA, CVCH as our Veterinary Blogger in our “From the Vet” Series. Currently part of the team of doctors at Keystone Veterinary Clinic, Dr. Savier is a 2012 Graduate of the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, She completed her clinical experience at The Ohio State University and after veterinary school she pursued further education and certification in Veterinary Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine, and Fear Free veterinary visits. Dr. Savier has a special interest in integrative medicine, animal behavior, and internal medicine and is committed to improving animal health care by integrating Eastern and Western philosophies. She enjoys working with fearful & aggressive dogs and cats and she has had additional training in low stress handling techniques and encourages positive reinforcement during exams and procedures. Her clinical interests include pain management, animal behavior, geriatric patient care, and internal medicine. Dr. Savier is a member of the following associations:

Dr. Savier shares her home with two (soon to be three) dogs, two cats, and a toddler. She lovingly refers to her two dogs as Coconut Retrievers as they were rescue dogs she brought home from the island of St. Kitts. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family, going to the beach, and planning her next Disney vacation.

Join us every month for Dr. Savier’s “From the Vet” series to get more information related to the health and welfare of your furry family members!

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