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Pet Obesity is More Than Just a Little Extra Weight: It’s a Dangerous Epidemic

That last bite of burger you always save for your dog could be killing him. Harsh, right? But true. Carrying extra weight is just as dangerous for our pets as it is for us. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, an estimated 53% of dogs and 58% of cats in the United States are obese. Learn the significant dangers of this growing epidemic and how you can spot the signs of obesity.

Heart diseaseobeseanimals3

Yes, animals can suffer from heart disease–and the likelihood that they will is increased by obesity. It shortens the lifespan of your pet and impacts their quality of life. Signs to look for include shortness of breath, sudden weakness, lethargy, cough, and a distended abdomen. If you see any of these present in your animal, it is vital that you visit the vet right away. In most cases, the pet’s health history will be thoroughly reviewed, followed by a physical examination and diagnostic laboratory testing (x-rays, blood tests, monitoring of blood pressure) in order to accurately diagnose heart disease.

Diabetes

Type I and II Diabetes are more prevalent in obese pets and require the same level of care that the disease demands in humans, with type I necessitating daily injections of insulin. Symptoms to take note of include excessive thirst and hunger, and weight loss. In order to confirm the diagnosis, your vet will run a series of tests, including a blood count, chemical profile, and urinalysis.

Painful joints, muscles, and ligamentsobeseanimals1

Your pet’s bones, joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments must all work together in order to provide smooth movement. When excess weight is in play, this sturdy system can become compromised, causing your pet significant pain. Arthritis often develops in obese animals, making movement–vital to the overweight pet–much more difficult and unpleasant. Hip dysplasia, common in many larger breeds, becomes markedly worse. And the anterior cruciate ligament, which is already prone to tears or strains in dogs, is even more likely to be injured. Watch for stiffness, limping, difficulty getting up from a sitting or lying position, hesitancy to run, jump, or climb stairs, and lameness. X-rays, a physical exam, and diagnostic testing all contribute to your vet’s ability to diagnose.

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Lydia Lee lives in Seattle with two sweet, if slightly out of control, dogs. She loves reading, food, and the opportunity to make a difference.