When your  dog is overweight

We all know somebody who has a fat dog or cat. It’s unfortunate but true – just as our general population is getting more obese, so are out pets. If you love your pet you’ll tend to spoil them.

The health risks to the overweight family pet are many.One of the most common complications is the development of diabetes. According to one study, heavy or obese pets are 2-4 times more likely to develop diabetes. Obesity causes an increase in the secretion of insulin in response to the increased blood glucose level and simply because there is a greater amount of tissue. When requirements for insulin exceed the ability of the body to produce insulin, diabetes develops. If the need for insulin increases over a long period of time, the cells in the pancreas which produce insulin can actually “burn out”, again resulting in diabetes.

Other problems can develop in the liver, which stores fat. When kitty is overweight, an increased amount of fat can build up, a condition called hepatic lipidosis. Since it can result in decreased liver function, it can be life-threatening if an obese cat, for any reason, does not eat, loses weight rapidly, or is otherwise stressed.

The risk of lameness and arthritis in heavy or obese  dogs and cats is 3-5 times that of pets with optimal weight. Also, obese cats  are twice as likely to develop nonallergic skin conditions, possibly due to an inability to groom themselves adequately – this may result in skin problems developing as well.

Veterinarians generally need to take extra precautions when anesthetizing and performing surgery on obese cats. Since many of the anesthetics are taken up by fat, an overweight animal will take longer to come out of anesthesia (as the anesthetic must be removed from the fat by the body). Additionally, many anesthetics are broken down by the liver, so a fatty liver may not be as efficient at breaking down anesthetics and other drugs, so again, recovery may be delayed. Of course, the increased fat in the tissues makes any surgery more difficult, since fat obscures the surgical area.

In the end the responsibility for a fat pet can be placed on the shoulders of you, the owner. You’re not doing  your pets a favour when you give them that extra can of food or kitty treat when they beg for it. Overweight pets can tend to be more irritable due to being in pain or simply uncomfortable. You’re not contributing positively to kitty’s health when you allow them to become overweight. So, like a spoilt child, withholding things they like may have to be done for their own good!

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