If you need a more accessible version of this website, click this button on the right. Switch to Accessible Site

WARNING

You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

Close [x]

Social Media

October's Topic of the Month is:  Healthy Weight Awareness

Maintaining a healthy weight is an integral part of maintaining a healthy pet.  Both being underweight and overweight come with additional health risks.  They can also be caused by underlying health issues.  It is important to remember that there is no magical number to try for based solely on your pet’s breed.  Each individual pet has an ideal weight based on their own body structure which their veterinarian will help you determine.

What can cause a pet to be underweight?

There are several different health issues and diseases that can cause an animal to be underweight.

Not getting enough food or not having a good quality food.

Stress and anxiety can cause a decreased appetite which leads to low weights.

Heartworm infections can cause weight loss and intestinal parasites leech off the nutrients your pet takes in from their food, preventing them from getting the nutrition they need.

Hyperthyroidism is the over-production of the thyroid hormones which is usually seen in cats, not dogs.  This increases the metabolism of the cat, preventing their body from retaining the proper amount of nutrients from their food.

Decreases in the function of any of the internal organs can also cause a decrease in a pet’s weight.  Kidney disease for example is a very common cause of weight loss, especially in cats.

While it may seem contradictory, severe weight loss can also be a sign of diabetes which can be cause by being overweight.

Being underweight can lead to decreased function of the organs as well as weaker bones.

What can cause a pet to be overweight?

There are several health issues and diseases that can cause an animal to be overweight.

Food that is higher in calories then what they use in their daily activities can cause weight gain.  So can over-feeding and feeding table scraps.

Hypothyroidism is the insufficient production of the thyroid hormones which is usually seen in dogs, not cats.  This decreases the metabolism of the dog which leads to weight gain.

After being spayed or neutered, a pet’s metabolism decreases which can lead to weight gain if their food intake is not adjusted properly.

Being overweight can lead to diabetes, joint issues, breathing issues, heart issues, and issues with the internal organs.

What to do?

If you are concerned your pet is underweight:

  • Have your pet seen to have testing done to rule out underlying causes
  • If no health issues are found, switch them to a higher calorie food (for grown pets, switching to puppy or kitten food is a good first step).
  • Closely monitor their weight to observe for improvement

If you are concerned your pet is overweight:

  • Have your pet seen to have testing done to rule out underlying causes
  • If no underlying causes are found, make the following changes to the diet (if applicable)
    • No table foods
    • Controlled feeding – do not allow free feeding
    • Switch to a lower calorie food
  • Closely monitor their weight to observe for improvement – if you are not having success, discuss a prescription diet for weight loss with the doctor.
  • Exercise!