October: Pet Obesity Awareness Day
Updated: Oct 29
Pet Obesity Awareness Day is in October, a day dedicated to spreading awareness of the risks of obesity in our pets. This month, we are diving into the basics of when a pet is considered obese, the factors that may make them so, and how to reduce weight safely to ensure your pet is as happy and healthy as can be!
Consider this a good start to your month's research and education, and perhaps further it by discussing with your vet the risks that come with pet obesity, which include higher risks of diabetes, airway restrictions and a lack of mobility. We will link some good resources to help you further at the end of this post.
Much like humans, all animals can come in different shapes and sizes, and these sizes are perfectly healthy- to a certain extent. Many believe that weighing an animal is the best way to tell if they are obese or not. While this is a commonly used practice, it is limited in the information it provides, as weight doesn’t equate to body composition (for example, the mass of fat compared to lean body mass). It has been found that weight can stay the same as these factors change with age, potentially increasing fat mass and decreasing lean body mass without any shift in the scale.
Body Condition Scores (BCS), which are a set of numbers and corresponding charts, are a clearer method to test obesity. You’ve probably seen them on the wall of your vet's office before, and give a general idea of if your pet is considered obese. Ideal BCS changes between the specificity of the chart, but all should indicate the ‘green zone’, which is where your pet needs to be to be considered healthy.
As mentioned before, all animals are naturally shaped differently, so it is important to understand that breed and age will have a big impact on your pet's healthy body composition at any point in time.
So, now that we know when a pet is considered obese, let's look at the factors that may have increased their fat mass. Fat is stored when the energy intake is not equal to the output, so a lack of exercise and overfeeding are usually the two main culprits for this condition. The former point can be from a range of factors, making obesity more common in old age as arthritis and/or other conditions restrict movement. Remember your vet will always be the best resource for you, and regular check-ups will hopefully mean conditions are identified before they become more serious.
With this covered, it should be clear what the methods to reduce obesity are. More exercise daily like walks or playing with your pet will ensure they are using up all of the energy they consume, and deepen your connection with your pet as an added bonus! Reducing the food they eat outside of necessary mealtimes, or even supplementing their diets with specialised food to stimulate weight loss while remaining healthy, is also very effective. And, as always, perhaps an additional vet catch-up to ensure you are doing everything you can to keep your pet happy and healthy.
Happy October and good luck learning more about Pet Obesity!
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