We are seeing more overweight senior pets. Obesity isn’t just for people anymore.
Overweight senior pets are on the rise. More and more pets are sadly carrying an extra load around their middle. Too much food and too little exercise. Owners are using food as a treat and reward system, a little too much. While they are trying to show love, what they are actually doing is killing them with kindness.
While it’s heartwarming to give a pet a treat out of love, what isn’t being seen is the internal damage that is happening as a result. Organ, bone and joint damage are common in overweight pets. Not to mention overall mental discomfort. Quite often pet owners don’t see the pain and struggle in the pet because, well let’s face it, pet’s are great at hiding their pain.
Think of it from a scaled perspective. If a 15 pound dog is carrying 5 extra pounds we think, meh, that’s not a big deal. But in human terms that’s equivalent to a 150 pound person carrying an extra 50 pounds. Imagine being at a weight of 150 and having to lugging around a 50 pound backpack. It’s a third of your weight! And worse, you can’t take it off when you walk, sleep, eat, or run. Nope, you won’t be running much at all carrying that thing around.
Some of the more common issues that arise from obesity in animals
- Difficulty breathing – it may not always be obvious in the pet, but it is more common than you think.
- Heart intolerance – enough said.
- Arthritis – that’s those good old joints trying to keep up with the pressure.
- Diabetes – in pets? Yep, in pets.
- Overheating – carrying the extra fat is like wearing another blanket of insulation.
- And many others – including high blood pressure, higher risk of cancer and liver disease
Obesity in senior animals, and sometimes younger animals, surrendered to shelters is common. While we can only speculate the reasons behind this. Most commonly, we see a lot of pets who had older owners who were unable to care for the pet. They resort to leaving food out 24/7 instead of preparing it twice a day. Providing lots of snacks and treats to show their affection. And when medical issues arise, many times they are unable to pay for the treatment.
Once recent senior obese case is Sadie, a “chug” (Chihuahua mixed with a Pug). She was 5 pounds overweight when she was adopted out of a shelter at the age of 12. It took a few months but her new owners were able to get her moving and reduce the food intake. Slowly but surely her health improved.
The cool thing about obesity in pets, if there is anything cool about it, is that it can be reversed. With a little time and discipline on the human’s part, a healthier existence for the pet is very much possible.
While sharing food in many cultures is a loving gesture, many times it can backfire. There’s no point in wasting time being negative about the situation. The best thing to do is move forward with a healthier plan starting immediately. When you see the relief and joy that comes back into that pet’s life, you’ll be glad you did!
So get that pet moving. Bring out some fun toys or take them for a walk as often as you can. And speak with your veterinarian about the correct amount and type of food to give to the pet to succeed in weight loss goals.
And lastly, if you see someone out and about walking an overweight animal. Don’t be quick to judge. They just might be the new adopter taking their big boy out for a new healthy walk!
Congrats on your weight loss Sadie!
To help more senior pets struggling with the pain of excess weight, check out our Pin Membership where profits go directly to shelters caring for abandoned senior animals!