Body weight for any species should be optimal for best function.
As with humans, obesity in pets has become an epidemic no only in this country but in many around the world.
Dogs and cats are suffering from the same health problems as humans from carrying too much weight and the problems get worse as the weight remains over a longer period of time. They are showing degenerative changes in tendons, ligaments and problems with internal organs and systems from the burden of the excess body fat. There are increased rates of diabetes, lung problems and arthritis.
How does your pet become obese?
If its not an under-active thyroid issue (this can be checked by your vet through a simple blood test and is easily remedied through prescription medication) then like a lot of us humans, dogs and cats may become obese from overeating and under-exercising.
Over eating is tricky. Most pet foods and treats on the market contain nutritionally empty, high-carbohydrate fillers such as corn, wheat, rice and soy. These fillers provide lots of energy, but for pets that aren’t moving enough, this extra energy supplies too many calories and results in weight gain.
The second major cause of obesity is medications.
Prednisone is an example of a drug commonly given to dogs and cats for a wide range of conditions—itching, inflammation, and gastrointestinal disorders—because it is effective at suppressing symptoms. Especially effective for short-term relief.
But one serious side effect of prednisone is weight gain, because it’s a catabolic steroid, not anabolic. Catabolic means your pet’s body burns its muscle as a fuel source. Anabolic means the body is in growth mode, i.e., getting more muscular. Therefore, one side effect of a catabolic steroid is increased body fat and reduction of muscle mass.
Another thing that can rapidly lead to obesity is treats.
Yes, we love to give them and they love to get them—and treats are okay, provided the right types are given in appropriate quantities.
Dogs and cats are carnivores. So their treats should be protein-based, meaning meat. Protein treats supply the reward while not providing excess energy calories. Portion control is so important. I recommend only a pea-sized treat, regardless of whether you’re giving it to a Saint Bernard or a Persian kitten. The goal isn’t to make it a meal, only to communicate, “Job well done.”
Take a look at our Acana and Orijen Treats and foods