Most of us humans know the feeling of gaining a little extra weight. Whether you’ve hopped on the scale and seen the number go up, or can’t fit into your favourite pair of jeans after the Christmas period. While our cats and dogs don’t weigh themselves or have to squeeze into clothing, they are susceptible to weight gain too.
7 common reasons your pet is gaining weight
A few extra kilos on a human is usually nothing to stress about as this is usually easily managed. However, this sometimes isn’t the case for our pets. Weight gain in your cat or dog, especially if it happens quickly, can indicate an underlying illness. Extra weight can cause other health issues in your cat or dog such as arthritis, heart disease, breathing difficulties and can even reduce their life expectancy by up to two years. Monitoring your cat or dog’s weight is an important part of being a pet parent, and understanding some of the common reasons for weight gain will help you put them back on the path to a healthy weight. Here’s 7 reasons your cat or dog may be gaining weight:
In most cases of overeating, it’s the pet parent who needs to make a change to the way their cat or dog is eating. For example, if you are free feeding your pet (they have unlimited access to food throughout the day), they may be overindulging. Feeding too many treats may also result in weight gain.
Feed a premium cat or dog food specific to your pet's age, size or breed. Measure out your pet’s meal portions based on the food packaging’s instruction. If you aren’t sure what is the correct amount, consult your vet or the Pet Direct Customer Service Team. Keep your pet’s treat intake to 10% of their normal diet. If they are exceeding that it is probably time to cut back. If your pet is still unable to lose weight, consult your vet.
Your pet’s diet is an important part of maintaining their overall health. You may see weight gain occur if your cat or dog is being fed too many table scraps, a poor quality food, or a food that is unsuitable for their age or breed (for example a senior dog that is being fed a diet formulated for a younger, more active canine). There are several breed specific foods and life stage diets available for both your cat and dog. It is always important to feed your pet a quality food that is nutritionally balanced to meet all of their dietary needs.
Talk to one of Pet Direct’s Customer Service Experts or consult your vet about your cat or dog’s current diet and what would be best for their nutritional needs. There are several weight management foods such as Hill’s Science Diet Perfect Weight Dog Food and Cat Food, which are specially formulated to keep your pet in their best condition.
Lack of exercise
Just like us humans, regular exercise is an important part of keeping your pet fit and healthy. How much exercise your dog needs will depend on their age, size and breed. If you aren’t sure you can always ask your vet. Exercise is also important for cats.
Exercise with your dog daily, this will keep both you and your pooch healthy. Going on walks, hikes or organising play dates for your dog are all great ways to ensure they are getting the exercise they need. Find your local dog park or dog friendly beach. Invest in a good quality collar lead such as the EzyDog Neo Collar and EzyDog Zero Shock Lead. Interactive toys such as tug ropes and balls may encourage your dog to get moving. Interactive toys will be enjoyed by your cat too, and toys that encourage them to run, jump and pounce is one of the best ways to encourage them to become more active.
As your pet becomes older you may notice weight gain, this can be caused by a slowing metabolism, lack of exercise, unsuitable diet and underlying health issues.
As your dog becomes older, you may need to change their exercise routine to include lower impact activities such as slower walks or swimming. Running and jumping may cause strain and pain in your senior dog’s joints. Supplements for senior dogs and cats can help improve joint performance and make them more comfortable. Make sure you are feeding your dog or cat a senior specific diet to ensure they are getting all the nutrients they need.
Hormones and changes
Your pet can go through many hormonal and lifestyle changes throughout their life, and weight can be impacted. For example, spaying and neutering can cause hormones to decrease and slow your pet’s metabolic rate. This makes it easier for them to gain weight. Ageing also causes hormonal changes that may result in weight gain.
Take note of any changes in your pet’s life and organise to speak with your vet and have them examine your cat or dog. They will be able to help you in coming up with the best approach to keeping your pet at a healthy weight, this may include a change in their exercise regime or a new food.
Some breeds, usually smaller and lower energy breeds, are genetically disposed to weight gain. While a small amount of weight gain may not seem like a lot, for a small dog such as a Shih Tzu even just 1kg of extra weight can be a 20% increase their body weight. To put that in perspective that would be like asking an 80kg human to carry around an extra 16kgs with them all day, every day.
While there’s not much you can do about your dog or cat’s breed, it is important to be proactive and prepared for certain health issues your pet may encounter. Research your pet’s breed, or ask your vet about common health issues and solutions for your pet. Feed a breed specific cat or dog food, such as Royal Canin, to cater to your pet’s particular needs.
There are several underlying health issues that can cause cats and dogs to gain weight or make it hard for them to get an appropriate amount of exercise. Thyroid problems can cause weight gain, and these sorts of health issues need to be monitored and addressed by your vet.
It is important to check in with your vet if you notice any drastic changes to your pet’s weight or ability to exercise. Regular visits to the vet will help to ensure that any health issues are caught before they become a serious issue. Symptoms to keep an eye out for are lethargy, loss of appetite and depression. These are all indicators that your pet may be experiencing an underlying health issue.
Your dog or cat’s ideal weight will depend on several factors including threat size, age and breed. Always consult your vet if you are concerned about any changes to your pet’s weight or ability to exercise. Addressing this problem could be as simple as shifting some lifestyle factors such as changing their diet, providing more interactive toys or getting out for more exercise. Your vet will be able to give you recommendations and tips based on your pet’s specific needs.