Among the areas of veterinary medicine that Dr. Gates and Dr. Ryan are passionate is the area of canine and feline obesity. Extra pounds are detrimental to the health and quality-of-life of our pets. Extra pounds contribute to arthritis formation, predispose an animal to diabetes, make breathing difficult, and exacerbate heart disease. I don’t know anyone who wants these things for their best pet-friend.
Lots has been learned recently about why it’s so difficult for overweight and obese pets to lose weight. (Overweight means 10% more than an animal ought to weigh. Obesity means 20% or more than an animal ought to weigh.) The latest research has shifted the weight-loss battle away from Dog+Owner vs. Veterinarian. The battle has now been established as Dog+Owner+Veterinarian vs. Fat! Cats and Dogs become overweight/obese because they consume more calories than they burn. BUT, once our pets become overweight/obese their bodies, along with the excess fat, literally work against all of us and for maintaining the weight that we don’t want for them.
The enemy is extra fat, and the battle is winnable!
So what can we do? There are a number of options: diet with calorie restriction, exercise, and/or the Slentrol program.
We’ll talk more about calories and Slentrol in future blog posts, but for now we’ll talk about exercise. The goal with exercise is to safely push through being tired in order to burn calories, and burn more calories than are consumed. This always starts with short periods of pushing through the tiredness, and with time, as stamina builds, our cats and dogs will be able to tolerate more exercise and activity.
Successful exercise also begins with a decision to adjust the lifestyle in the home. The fact is that obesity grew out of a particular lifestyle that was in place for a while as the pet gained the excess weight. If the lifestyle doesn’t change, the body condition will not change either.
One of the neat things about exercising more with your dog or cat is that it fosters teamwork! Teamwork helps everyone, and it deepens your friendship!!
Visit PetFit Training w/ Gunnar Peterson for some short video clips of exercise ideas for your cat and/or your dog. After you watch the videos, try the ideas out, or be creative and come up with something your pet will enjoy. If you find a particularly good exercise for your cat or dog, let us know!
Remember, the goal of pursuing exercise is to give your pet-friend the best opportunity to enjoy a long, happy, healthy life with you!