Helping your Pet Lose Weight
Having a pet with a few extra pounds to spare may not seem like a serious problem, however, more and more pets are becoming over-weight and pet obesity is becoming a steadily increasing concern. Being over-weight makes your pet vulnerable to a number of health risks including diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease as well as decreased immune functioning.
Extra strain is placed on your pet’s internal organs, as well as on joints and bones, making simple activities more strenuous. Over-weight pets also tend to have a poorer quality of life as they aren’t able to be as active, often get excessively hot, and may even be uncomfortable a lot of the time.
In most cases, weight gain is so gradual that you may not even notice it until one day you realize, or someone comments that your pet is actually over-weight. Whatever the case, it is never too late to make healthy and positive changes now that will affect your pet later, and possibly add year to his or her life!
What Causes Pets to Become Overweight?
There are a number of factors that contribute to our pets gaining weight. The main culprit is an unbalanced exercise-diet ratio meaning your pet is eating more calories than what he or she is using in physical activity. Other factors include:
- Diet – many store-bought pet foods are inappropriate for your pet’s digestive system and are too high in carbohydrates and fats. In addition to this, many pet owners constantly give into puppy dog eyes and pleading mews at the dinner table and so pets are being given tid bits and treats which are high in calories!
- Activity levels – Some pets are more active than others, and so they require a higher caloric intake than sedentary pets. If your pet is getting very little exercise then they do not need as much food as an active pet. Use activity levels as a rough gauge for meal portions.
- Eating patterns – Many pet owners opt for free-choice feeding, meaning they set a bowel of food out which is always full for when their pet is hungry. While some pets manage fine on this eating option, and only eat when they are hungry, some pets over-eat and don’t know when to stop. Free-choice feeding also allows for eating out of boredom. Over-weight pets should rather be fed smaller meals at regular intervals throughout the day.
- Illnesses – Certain illnesses and medical conditions can cause weight gain. These include pituitary gland and brain diseases, Cushing’s disease, Hypothyroidism and tumors of the pancreas (insulinoma).
- Age – When our pets are young they tend to be more active and use much of their energy for growth. From the age of 2, many pets will start to gain weight if their diets aren’t adapted accordingly. Peak weight gain age is at round about 6 years old.
- Medication – Certain medications can causes changes in metabolism and appetite. Some of these include glucocorticoids such as prednisone and dexamethasone and barbiturates such as phenobarbital which is frequently used to control epilepsy.
- Genetic factors – Studies have revealed that weight gain can be genetic and certain breeds seem to be more predisposed to weight gain than others. High risk dog breeds include Labrador Retrievers, Beagles, Dalmatians, Basset Hounds, Shetland Sheepdogs, and Miniature Poodles to name a few. Mixed breed cats tend to be at higher risk than pure bred cats.
- Sterilization – Spaying or neutering your pet can cause hormonal changes and changes in activity levels which can cause weight gain. Sterilized pets generally need about 20% less food than non-sterilized pets. The problem therefore, is not so much with the procedure, as with the changes of dietary needs after it.
- Social environment – Some pets over-eat because they are bored, lonely, stressed or feel that there is competition for available food amongst other pets. These problems should be tackled directly so that your pet no longer feels the need to over-eat.
Help for Weight Loss
Helping your pet lose that extra weight is no easy task, but luckily nature has a few natural ingredients to assist with the process. The mineral rich sea vegetable, Fucus vesiculosis will help increase your pet’s metabolism by assisting in the production of thyroid hormones.
Other beneficial weight-loss ingredients include Curcuma longa which helps with the break-down of dietary fats, and Milk Thistle which is renowned for its beneficial effects of the liver, the organ responsible for metabolizing fats in the body.