Overweight Pets

Image of an overweight cat lying on the ground.

According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), 43% of all dogs and 53% of all cats are classified as overweight. What's worse is that an additional 10% of all dogs and 19% of all cats are considered obese! Therefore, more than half of our dogs and cats are overweight or obese. So, should your pet start an Atkins Diet?

Ramsey is a "cheese-aholic". At 6 years old and 156 lbs, this Bull Mastiff listens for his owner to unwrap the cellophane from a cheese slice and then makes a beeline for the refrigerator. Joyce Sternberg, Ramsey's owner, says originally cheese was an incentive to teach Ramsey to shut the back door. As a result, Ramsey had become so heavy he actually tried to avoid walks. Dislike for exercise is a common theme for overweight pets. Irene Snow was chided by her veterinarian for allowing her Malamute mix, Yogi Bear, to balloon up to 127 pounds. An overweight pet is more prone to heart problems, poor skin condition, lameness, and more serious illnesses, like diabetes. A ground-breaking study actually details how pets who free feed live an average of two years less than pets with limited calories.

Without realizing it, many owners contribute to pet obesity through good intentions. "Some pets get twice as many meals each day because no one is in charge of feeding," says Dr. Steve Hotchkiss, veterinarian and owner of Hulen Hills Animal Hospital. Hotchkiss challenged Ramsey and Yogi in a "Biggest Pet Loser" contest. Over the course of eight weeks, a newspaper article tracked the pounds that they shed and the trials they endured. Ramsey's beloved cheese was the first thing to go and Yogi's new treats consisted of green beans instead of ice cream. Both pets were also encouraged to increase their activity levels.

Changes were apparent within just a few weeks and when the results were announced, both dogs showed significant weight loss. Yogi Bear had lost more than 14 lbs, making him the Biggest Pet Loser for the contest. Keeping it off has been more of a challenge though. Ramsey, on the other hand, continued his progress and eventually lost a total of 32 lbs! He is now at a trim 124 lbs. and Sternberg says he has the energy of a puppy and is excited about walks.

APOP says that pet owners should open a dialogue with their veterinarian about their pet's weight. The very first step should be a good thorough physical examination and associated blood work. This will help rule out diseases that cause weight gain, like hypothyroidism in dogs. Next, devise a diet plan with your veterinarian for safely reducing the number of calories being fed while also increasing the calories being burned through activity. Finally, make exercise a priority. Two or more brisk walks each day for our pudgy pooches and thirty minutes of playtime with your flabby tabby can help them lose that excess weight. With your love and commitment, your pet can lose that excess poundage which, in turn, could add years to your pet's life.

Tips to help your pet lose weight:

  • Pets who are fed controlled portions of food live about two years longer than those who have unlimited access to the food bowl.
  • Start your pet's diet with a trip to the veterinarian. A thorough physical exam and blood tests can help rule out diseases that can cause weight gain.
  • Next, throw away the self-feeders and designate one person in the family to feed the pets. Feed a few small meals instead of one large meal.
  • Replace high calorie treats with healthy alternatives like green beans or carrots.
  • Increase your pet's activity level. Two brisk walks daily for your dog can help both of you shed the excess weight.
  • Try to spend about thirty minutes each day playing with your cat. Kitty Teasers and laser pointers can really help them lose pounds.
  • Follow up with your veterinarian and adjust your pet's diet and exercise routine as needed.

Location

Find us on the map

Monday:

8:30 am-8:00 pm

Tuesday:

8:30 am-5:00 pm

Wednesday:

8:30 am-5:00 pm

Thursday:

8:30 am-5:00 pm

Friday:

8:30 am-5:00 pm

Saturday:

8:45 am-2:00 pm

Sunday:

Closed

Testimonials

Feedback from our clients

  • "Words can not begin to express our gratitude for the care you had given Hunter over the years. When his time came, he watched for you to come through the door and his tail showed his affection towards you. That was most comforting having you there. Thank you.""
    ~R.H
  • ""Thank you so much for taking care of Maggie over the years. Y'all are the best and Dr. Johnson, you are the best vet in the world! God bless you all.""
    ~ J.D.
  • ""Your care for my beloved Mattie these last 10n years made her life, and mine much better….God bless each of you for all you did for us and I'm sure for all your other two and four legged patients.""
    ~E.D.
  • ""Thank you for saving my life." ~T.C."
    ~T.C.
  • ""I can not express how grateful I am for you and your staff… I appreciate everything you did in Beckham's treatment. He was so lucky to have such a wonderful doctor on his side. Thank you for all you do for the benefit of all our beloved pets.""
    ~L.B.
  • ""Dr. Johnson - There are no words that can truly capture your kindness.""
    ~G.B.
  • ""Thank you for the great care you took of Taco and the rest of our family. He is doing great now! He is enjoying running and playing with all four legs again.""
    ~W.C
  • ""People who avail themselves of your services at the clinic certainly are blessed to have such a caring staff....bless you and your devoted staff.""
    ~E.D.
  • ""A sincere thank you for taking such good care of Dulce. We are so thrilled that she is back to her normal self. You gave her the support and care she needed in her darkest hours and kept us confident in her recovery.""
  • ""Just to say how much we appreciate all of you. You all are wonderful people. We feel blessed to have our beloved furry children in your care when they need it. Your professional knowledge and your acts of kindness have a beautiful act all it's own. You are a great vet, compassionate and everything good all in one. You are in our daily prayers.""
    ~T.F.
  • ""Thank you and all of your staff for the excellent care you gave to my wonderful Abbey, who was so much a part of the family. Thank you for all the advice and support you gave to me these last few months. I don't know how I would have gotten through this without your constant support. I will, and I have highly recommended you to family and friends, as I feel you are the best!""
    ~P.B.
  • ""Thank you for taking care of my kitty, Slingshot. He is feeling better and better. My Paw-Paw said that you took extra special care of him and I really appreciate it. So, thank you again for taking care of my cat.""
    ~T.B. (age 6)
  • ""Dr. Johnson, I don't know why you decided to move here from your home in New Jersey, but I absolutely believe it was so you could help me and Mickey. I know coming to someone's home is not what a typical veterinarian would do, but you are obviously an extraordinary man in a world filled with ordinary men….On top of that, your sensitive and wonderful handwritten note arrived and touched my heart…You are one of those quiet, unheralded champions who make life easier for everyone you touch.""
    ~C.W.
  • ""Thank you so much for taking care of Lola when she had her reaction, and your office was already closed. I know you took time away from yourself and your family and I really appreciate it.""
    ~R.M.
  • ""Thank you for giving me more time with my best friend. We are all so grateful.""
    ~A.M.
  • ""Thank you for all of your support for Maxine during her illness. All was very much appreciated and will always be remembered. I have related to all my friends of what a great doctor and staff at Birdneck Animal Hospital.""
    ~O.B.
  • ""Thank you for taking such good care of me over the last 4 years. I am doing well and both legs and feet feel great. You sis an awesome job on me Dr. Johnson, and I'm gonna have a great year this year and I hope to see you only for my check up. You guys are the best!""
    ~Budkus
  • "We can't thank you enough for the wonderful and loving care you gave to"Budkus" while he was in your care. He was so little and so sick and we were so scared for him. Each and every one of the staff members made us feel like we had the only dog in the world. Like nothing else mattered except getting "Budkus" well again. Our deepest gratitude to all of you for the excellent care and attention we received, for your encouragement, comfort, and understanding, and most importantly for saving his life! Thank you so much.""
    ~ J.,B.,C.