Test the girth of your knowledge…

The “Obesity Epidemic” in America is not only confined to humans – it is just as possible for your pet to become overweight or obese, too!

Have you ever heard that “Obesity is natural as pets age and grow less active…” or “Spaying or neutering causes pets to get fat….”? If you have, it’s wrong!

Pet obesity is hard enough to tackle without the hinderance of old wives’ tales, misinformation and flat out fabricated myths. However, it is possible to reject those myths and excuses to make the best choice for your pet. Obesity is just as much a danger to your pet’s health as it is your own.

But first, how much do you know about obesity? Test yourself with this short quiz (answers will be at the end).

1. What are the risk factors for obesity?
A. Gender
B. Breed disposition
C. Owner’s lifestyle
D. All of the above

2. What is the normal fat composition for an adult dog, 8-10 years of age?
A. 1%-2% fat
B. 10%-15% fat
C. 25%-30% fat
D. More than 30% fat

3. Obese dogs and cats are more at risk for which condition?
A. Musculoskeletal diseases
B. Diabetes
C. Separation Anxiety
D. None of the above

4. How is obesity diagnosed?
A. Blood tests looking for lipids and triglycerides
B. Clinical inspection looking for body weight and body condition score that takes place during a normal physical exam
C. Radiographs and thyroid tests
D. All of the above

5. Is surgery an option for weight loss in an animal?
A. Yes
B. No

6. Why are unbalanced, unmonitored weight reduction programs harmful?
A. Animals consume too many calories
B. Animals do not consume enough calories
C. They may produce deficiency states that lead to illness or death
D. Fiber makes no difference in a diet

7. When is an animal considered obese?
A. When it has 5% excess body weight
B. When it has 10% excess body weight
C. When it has 15% excess body weight
D. When it has 30% excess body weight

8. Can obesity be prevented?
A. Yes
B. No

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How do you think you scored? Here are the answers:

1. What are the risk factors for obesity?
D. All of the above. There are many risk factors for obesity, including gender, breed disposition, owner’s lifestyle, exercise, spaying/neutering, owners using treats to show love, medication, age, improper diet and more. Remember that factors are not especially a cause, but do certainly affect the caloric needs of each individual pet. You should discuss meeting your pet’s caloric needs with your veterinarian at each yearly physical exam.

2. What is the normal body fat composition for an adult dog, 8-10 years of age?
C. 25%-30%. Dogs start out lean, but fat composition changes naturally as they age. A dog 8-10 years old should have about 25%-30% fat. A younger dog carrying about 25%-30% body fat is obese. We have body score charts in all our exam rooms that give you an actual picture of dogs (and cats) that are both under and overweight.

3. Obese dogs and cars are more at risk for which condition?
A. Musculoskeletal diseases. Overweight and obese animals are at risk of developing several diseases, including musculoskeletal diseases, which decrease their quality of life. The additional weight causes more stress on on bones and tendons. Obesity has also been associated with hypertension, liver failure, infections and certain cancers or respiratory problems. If you guessed B. Diabetes, you’re half correct. Separation anxiety is a psychological condition and is not related to obesity.

4. How is obesity diagnosed?
B. Clinical inspection looking for body weight and body condition score. Most veterinarians can tell an animal is obese just by looking at it, however additional tests may be needed in order to eliminate any differentials (pregnancy, edema, masses, etc.). You should be able to feel individual ribs on light palpation. Any excess folds or draped accumulation of fat around the tail, head and neck point to a less-than-ideal body condition. We measure body condition at each and every physical examination.

5. Is surgery an option for weight loss in an animal?
B. No! Any surgical procedure used on people to help them lose weight has not been proven safe or effective on dogs and cats.

6. Why are unbalanced, unmonitored weight reduction programs harmful?
C. They may produce deficiency states that can lead to illness or death. Unbalanced diets are unhealthy and potentially dangerous for everyone. We will recommend a proper diet, exercise and treat plan to help your pet lose excess weight.

7. When is an animal obese?
C. When it has 15% excess body weight. Animals often experience negative health effects once they’re at this level of excess weight. Once a pet reaches 30% excess body weight, negative health effects are inevitable. Just like with humans! Did you know that an extra pound on a cat or small dog (chihuahua or pug, for example) is like you carrying around an extra 10 pounds?

8. Can obesity be prevented?
A. Yes! People have trouble breaking bad habits and maintaining good ones. To prevent obesity owners must modify the risk factors than cause the problem: poor diet and decreased exercise are the main ones. Mountain Aire’s staff will help you by making diet recommendations and give you tips on choosing healthy, regulated treats and snacks.

Call us at (661)248-7387 to begin a healthy weight loss program for your pet today!

Quiz adapted from the November 2011 edition of AAHA’s Trends magazine.