It is a crisis affecting every state, every city, every community, and every school across our great nation. The crisis is obesity. It’s the fastest growing cause of disease and death in America. And it’s completely preventable.
If there is one parameter that consistently indicates a good overall health status of a patient, it is the body weight. Our nation struggles with maintaining a trim waistline and this progressive trend is one of the public health challenges of the 21st century. We (as a society) are becoming more and more overweight, amounts and percentage depends on what study you reference.
Body weight has a lot of factors and is certainly influenced by diet, lifestyle, genetics, hormones and apparently even geographical factors (higher rates of human obesity seen in the South and
Midwest). There are a multitude of health issues for the obese patient, these include but are not limited to; heart and respiratory disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, orthopedic issues, various forms of cancer and a decreased life expectancy (up to 2.5 years). Just the state of being obese results in inflammation within the blood vessels!
We are all affected by our struggle to maintain a healthy weight. I have found that I just can’t eat the way I used to without it catching up to me. Our pets are the same way and they need less calories as they age. The bottom line is our weight is a function of how much we ingest and how many calories we burn in a day. The “fit bit” has become a fashion staple and some companies have even created such for our pets (Fitbark, Whistle, Tagg).
One of the first factors in a physical exam is assessment of the weight. One should be able to palpate the ribs of their animals readily. If you have to push in to find the ribs, they are too heavy.
Okay, for our feline friends playing with the food may help. There are lots of different toys and things that are out there; the Pipolino, the Multivet Slim Cat, the Cat Activity Fun Board, the Egg-cercizer & the Catit Treat Maze are just a few examples of tricking the cats into putting some
work in to getting their food. It makes life more interesting for them and can help reduce the cognitive decline that may accompany age.
Medication options; Unfortunately for cats there are no medication options, however with dogs dirlotapide (Slentrol) is available. Slentrol is an appetite suppressant that manipulates the absorption of fat into the body in such a way as to fool the brain into feeling full. Remember, the best diet is the one you stick with!
Dr. Cameron Dow
Prescott Animal Hospital