Understanding, perception, insight and commitment are the key here. As a pet owner, it is important to...
- understand that an adequate weight will contribute to your pet's health.
- realise when your pet is overweight.
- make a commitment to help your pet lose weight.
- approach weight loss slowly and continuously.
Warning! Caution should be exercised especially with overweight cats.
Cats are very sensitive to fast weight loss!
Fatty liver, also known as hepatic lipidosis, occurs when a cat's organism mobilizes the body's fat reserves due to a lack of food (for example through a radical diet). The liver's lipid metabolism is out of balance after just a few days. Since cats lack certain enzymes, the fat activated by the lack of food cannot be used as a source of energy. Instead, the fats are stored in the liver cells and destroy them piece by piece until the liver's function is disabled and liver failure occurs.
If left untreated, this leads to the death of the cat. So, it is important to lose weight slowly and evenly.
Tips for weight loss
If you think that your pet may be on the chubby side, read our tips to help you address the situation:
- Adjust the amount of food to the energy needs of your pet. Active animals need more calories than 'couch potatoes'.
- Read the feeding recommendations by the manufacturers. These indicate how much food your pet should be fed each day. However, this information is only intended as a guide. The factors of breed, age, level of activity and if the pet is neutered or pregnant need to be considered in determining the amount of food to give your pet.
- Only feed controlled treats. Treats are one of the main causes for obesity and their calories need to be counted as part of the daily allowance.
- Replace treats as a reward with cuddles and lots of praise. This is very good for your animal, and you don't have to worry about how to subtract these calories from the daily ration.
- Ignore any begging. This is particularly important because it can become an unnoticed conditioned behaviour.
- Do not give food from the table. Bear in mind that your food can be harmful to your animal's health.
- Think in terms of relation. A biscuit or piece of cheese may seem like a small treat, but it can be a meal for your pet. For example, 30g of cheese for your cat is roughly equivalent to six donuts on your plate.
- If you have other pets, feed them separately and put their food bowls away. This prevents your overweight pet from feeding from the other pets' bowls.
- Get more exercise: more activity for your pet means higher calorie consumption and this can not only be good for them but also it could be good for you. Take your dog for a walk more often, or slowly extend your dog walks. Play more with your cat.
- Seek support from family, friends, and visitors. They must support your dietary measures by following all the rules, no secret treats!
- Do not give up. Losing weight takes time. The process with animals is also a slow one.
- Put aside your guilty conscience. If you are currently in a situation where you cannot give your pet all the attention it deserves, don't give him extra food just because your conscience is troubling you. Admittedly, your pet will not complain about more treats, but it is far better to ask a friend for help to take care of your pet and give them attention when you are not there (for example go for a walk, play with them, ...)
- Avoid the yo-yo effect. Once your pet has lost weight, make sure you stick to a diet that is optimally tailored to your pet, so that they do not gain weight again.
A word of advice
Overweight or obesity has various causes. It occurs more frequently in old age, when an animal can no longer move as much for example due to arthritis. Some animals also have a genetic tendency to gain weight or gain weight because of neutering.
Obesity can also be due to diseases such as Hypothyroidism, Cushing's disease and many more. Before you put your pet on a diet, have your pet checked by a veterinarian to ensure that their weight gain is not due to ill health. A vet can also advise on how best to proceed with helping your pet to lose weight.
Before putting your pet on the diet: talk to your veterinarian
- Every animal has special diet requirements that should be based on their species, age, size and health.
- Rapid weight loss can lead to health problems.
- Please speak to your vet before putting your pet on a diet and seek their advice so that your pet’s weight loss can be done in a healthy and effective way.
PFMA Pet Obesity Reports 2019. https://www.pfma.org.uk/pet-obesity-reports