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We love our pets and we would do anything to make them happy, but far too often we end up trying to win their affection or show our praise with food and treats.  Most domesticated dogs and cats receive far above the recommended daily caloric intake, and most do not get exercise adequate to burn those extra calories. The result is an increase in cases of obesity and chronic conditions related to obesity.  We often do not realize what a couple extra pounds really means to our pets because we think of them in human terms. But we need to remember that an additional 2 pounds on our 10 pound terrier is the same as a 120 pound human gaining 24 extra pounds!  The health risks to overweight pets can be very serious and pet owners should be aware of these risks as some may lead to death.

The most common complication we see as a result of extreme weight gain is serious joint complications such as arthritis, and/or torn or ruptured anterior cruciate ligament(s).  Overweight breeds prone to inter-vertebral disc disease also have a higher probability of developing this painful condition. Diabetes mellitus is also becoming a common occurrence in overweight animals and animals eating a low quality diet.  Increased blood glucose levels in overweight animals cause an increase in insulin secretion.  When requirements for insulin exceed the ability of the body to produce it, diabetes develops and the animal will require insulin injections to maintain homeostasis.

Other conditions closely related to weight gain and poor nutrition are heart disease and hypertension, respiratory disease, liver and kidney disease/failure, digestive disorders such as GERD, and irritable bowel syndrome,  poor coat and skin infections, and allergic reactions due to decreased immune function.  In short, over feeding/treating our furry friends often leads to a decreased quality and length of life.  All our companions want from us is positive attention, but it can be in the form of interactive exercise/play, petting and massaging or just being near us.  Please talk to your veterinarian about diet, exercise and nutrition for your pet.  Prevention is the best medicine!

Source: Dr. Chet Thomas, City Veterinary Hospital, Tulsa Oklahoma

Love, The PetsWell Team

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