Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic Blog
Focus: Pet Obesity and its Effects on Your Pet’s Skin
Sadly, obesity is a big problem in this country for both pets and people alike. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, over half the pets in the United States are overweight or obese. While pudgy pets may look cute, the problem is far from pretty.
How Can I Tell if My Pet is Obese?
Obesity is simply the accumulation of excess body fat. We are accustomed to seeing pets who are overweight so it can be more difficult than it would seem to determine if your family friend is packing a little more than he or she should be. Try to look objectively at your pet by:
- Observing him or her from a distance
- Look from above to see if your pet has a discernable waist
- Take a gander from the side to see if there is a tummy sag
- Have a feel. Ribs should be felt easily without much pressure
- Compare to a body condition scoring chart
It is important to monitor your pet’s weight so that you can intervene if he or she does become overweight. A pet’s body is smaller than ours comparatively, so even an extra pound or two can make a big difference.
Why Does Pet Obesity Matter?
Carrying extra weight can impact the overall health of our pets in a negative way. In general, animals that are even moderately overweight have a life expectancy that is reduced by approximately two years.
Pets who are obese are at increased risk for:
- Several types of cancer
- Diabetes mellitus
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Torn cruciate ligaments
- Urinary problems
Generally, obese pets have decreased mobility, suffer from exercise intolerance, and can overheat easily. A pet who is a healthy weight is usually, overall, a happier one.
How Does Obesity Affect My Pet’s Skin?
Believe it or not, being overweight can cause your pet dermatological issues as well. Pets who are carrying excess weight often do not groom themselves adequately or may be prone to skin infections in areas where the skin folds on itself. Additionally, overweight pets tend to have a less healthy skin and coat overall.
Some underlying problems such as low thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism) can predispose a pet to being overweight as well. Problems such as those also frequently cause skin issues.
Obesity is just as unhealthy for pets as it is for people. Because extra weight can so dramatically affect a pet’s quality and length of life, it is our responsibility as pet owners to help our beloved animal friends maintain a healthy physique. If you need guidance or help achieving this basic need for your pet, please talk to your regular vet. If your pet’s weight is triggering skin issues, we are always happy to be of assistance in resolving them.