We have discussed the importance of weight control for pets who suffer from arthritis. There is no question about it. It is a major issue and we have to understand not only the importance of keeping pets "trim" but how to do it.
Pain and More Pain
In nearly every case, a pet who is suffering from arthritis will rebound fast by using a high-quality liquid glucosamine supplement. Some will rebound within a matter of days and in very severe cases, it may take a few weeks. The other side of the equation is that weight still plays a role even when your pet is mending.
While that supplement is taking pain away, your pet is still living with excessive weight that has the potential to cause even further joint injury. The load-bearing joints for a human are from the hips down; for pets, it is all four legs and the joints that support them.
Who is at fault?
Most of us tend to overfeed our pets. For some, it is just an issue of being a little lazy. We put out a bowl of food and replenish it too frequently. Another issue is "treats." Do we give them to our pets because they like them? Sure. However, if you looked at the other side of the coin, we also do it because we enjoy seeing our pets "going for them." When it comes to "treats" it is usually best to just cut down on them if weight is an issue.
Take the time to read the guidelines for food and body weight. Also, do not rely on foods that are labeled as being "light." Not all of them are so "light" in content. Calories can count in a big way and that is especially true with treats.
If you are following the guidelines for feeding based on the size and weight of your pet and they are still gaining weight, it is likely time to see the vet.
What's the problem?
First of all, less is best when it comes to food. Our own daily routines can get us into a situation where we just are not paying attention. Before we know it, Fido or Fluffy is overweight. Is it just the overfeeding? In most cases, the answer is "no." Frankly, I would rather have my pets (slightly) underfed than to give them too much.
If you are a regular reader of this column, you should also understand that excess weight is not only an arthritis issue. It can also cause a host of other health issues.
You have to understand that pets get lazy just like we do. That is usually (at least in part) a function of aging. Keeping some play and exercise in their regimen is important to stop that process. As well, with age comes the risk of obesity from other factors such as a low thyroid or Cushing's Disease. Obesity also raises the risk of diabetes, heart disease and pancreatic problems.
Dogs versus Cats
With cats, it is easy to see when they are overweight. Just run your hands over their sides and if you can feel their ribs they are likely at the weight they need to be. If not, they may be gaining a little too much weight. With dogs, it is usually easier to take a look at the "charts" for size and weight. If need be, ask a vet.
Remember, it is much easier to keep weight off a pet than it is to take it off when they get grossly overweight. Try to avoid that if you can. If it is too late for "avoidance", try to take steps to begin the shedding process. This may take a little time. After all, "pampered pets" usually go there because they know how to "manipulate" our feelings.