The Home Vet of Boulder:Pet Weight and Health

Pet Weight and Health

Many owners don’t think much about their pet’s weight; however, obesity in pets can lead to many of the same health issues that we see in overweight people. Over the years, the extra pounds can even shorten your pet’s life!

A recent study showed that “ideal weight” labradors lived an average of 2 years longer than their overweight counterparts. Also, overweight pets often suffer from health problems that degrade their quality of life in their later years.

Health Problems:

There are many health problems associated with a pet being overweight. These problems, ranging from minor pain to life-threatening illnesses, can be seen in dogs, cats, small mammals and even birds:

Arthritis: Your pet’s body size can “weigh” heavily on their joints and spine. Over time this extra pressure can lead to the inflammation and bony changes known as arthritis. Arthritic joints cause chronic pain and may result in your pet “slowing down” before their time. It can also create a need for daily medication to lessen the pain.

Lethargy: Heavy pets may have a significantly lower tolerance for exercise, resulting in general lethargy. This lethargy may simply be the result of your pet being “out of shape”, or may be due to a larger health problem brought on by excess weight. In any case, the end result may mean that your pet does not have the energy to enjoy its life to the fullest.

Diabetes: Just as with people, overweight pets are at a higher risk of developing diabetes. Diabetes is frighteningly common in overweight cats, but can also be diagnosed in dogs and other pets. Once diagnosed, diabetes can be hard to regulate and manage, requiring daily medication and frequent veterinary visits.

Heart Disease: Being overweight puts a lot of unnecessary strain on an animal’s heart. All that extra body mass means that the heart is pumping harder and more often than it was designed to. Over time, this extra work can damage the heart and ultimately lead to heart failure.

Clogged Arteries: Overweight pets can suffer from clogged arteries, just as their owners can. While it is not tremendously common in dogs and cats (because they don’t live long enough for the plaque to build up) it is very common in pet birds. Clogged, thickened arteries (arteriosclerosis) is usually caused by years of eating fatty foods (such as seeds and nuts), being sedentary and being overweight. As with humans, arterial sclerosis can lead to heart disease or even stroke.

Knowing the dangers that being overweight presents, it is obvious that being at a healthy weight is as important for pets as it is for people. Luckily, the keys to a healthy weight are the same for pets as for people: health, exercise, and diet.

Helping Your Pet Lose Weight

While losing weight is never easy, it is not impossible, even for you pets. Having a plan and sticking to it is key, and having medical support on your side can go a long way towards helping you reach your goal.

The steps to pet weight loss are the same for pets as for people: medical monitoring, healthy diet, exercise and realistic goals.

The Keys to Weight Loss:

Medical Monitoring: Before one begins any major weight loss plan, it is important to consult with a doctor. In the case of your pet, a visit to a veterinarian is in order. A thorough physical will help assess your pet’s general health, and a blood test may help rule out any hidden ailments which may either be at the root of your pet’s weight problem, or may make diet and exercise unsafe.

Your veterinarian can also help you set up a healthy diet plan for your pet, as well as reasonable exercise and weight loss goals. Regular trips to the veterinary hospital for weigh ins can help you monitor your pet’s weight loss while providing encouragement and support.

Healthy Diet: Obviously excessive caloric intake is at the root of most weight problems. As such, reducing calories is key to pet weight loss.

Monitoring your pet’s food intake is vital for any weight loss plan. It is normally recommended that you feed your pet a measured amount twice daily. This way, you know exactly how much food your pet is getting per day, while splitting the feedings allows your pet to utilize the calories more evenly throughout the day.

When helping a pet lose weight, most owners chose to start with store-bought low-calorie foods. This, along with exercise, may be enough to get your pet on the right track. Often, however, owners find that store bought foods don’t help enough. In this case, a prescription weight loss diet may be necessary.The Home Vet of Boulder can prescribe special diets to help your dog or cat lose weight.

Exercise- Exercise burns calories and helps get the metabolism burning calories faster. For sedentary pets, it is important that an exercise program start slowly. Begin with short walks or exercise periods and increase over a matter of weeks and months.

Again, consultation with a veterinarian is important. A veterinarian can help create a realistic and safe exercise plan that, along with a good diet, can help your pet lose weight, become fit and help it stay healthy.

Realistic Goals: It is important that owners have realistic goals when trying to help their pet lose weight. For instance, a small dog who is overweight at 20lbs may only lose a few ounces per month, whereas a giant-breed dog may lose 2 pounds in that same time span.


The Home Vet of Boulder:HOLIDAY PET HAZARDS


The Home Vet of Boulder wants you and your pets to have a safe and happy holiday. Here are few suggestions to help you avoid the common problems we encounter during the holidays.


Ribbon, tinsel, ornaments and gifts may be enticing to animals, but they can become ill if they ingest them. Keep all decorations on the upper 2/3 of the Christmas tree and pick up small décor from the ground.

Mistletoe, Holly and Amaryllis (bulbs)and ALL LILIES can all be highly toxic. Seek veterinary consultation immediately if your pet ingests any of these.

Poinsettias have received bad publicity as being highly toxic. They are actually not truly poisonous yet their milky sap can cause gastric upset.

Burning candles can injure pets. Keep them away from anywhere your jumping cat can reach!

Christmas Tree Secure the tree! Cats have been known to topple the tree resulting in injury to your pet or your home.

Electrical/extension cords can cause electrical burns or electrocution. Be sure you have cords secured and out of the way


Chocolate can be very toxic or even fatal to animals. Seek veterinary consultation immediately if your pet ingests chocolate.

Bones from your holiday dinner should never be given to your pet; they can splinter or break sending shards down the digestive tract, which may result in internal injury and hospitalization.

Overindulgence When faced with rich foods that they are not accustomed to, dogs and even cats become prone to vomiting, diarrhea or even a condition called pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas. Pancreatitis is extremely dangerous and usually requires an extended hospital stay. It is definitely more prevalent around the holidays thanks to the abundance of rich foods.

Trash Many aching digestive tracts come from a pet foraging in the trash for holiday leftovers!


Make sure your pet has a large bowl of fresh water. Thirst animals may resort to drinking from the toilet or water under the Christmas tree. Both can contain chemicals and/or preservatives, which cause gastric upset.


Before traveling or kenneling, check that your pets have all required vaccinations and health papers. If they are on medications or a special diet, have enough to last through the trip.


The chaos of the holidays can leave some pets confused. Be considerate and set aside a special quiet place with a blanket and fresh water where your pet can seek solitude when the festivities become stressful. Also, watch for open doors and sneaky, scared pets. Make sure they have collars and tags on in case of escape!


A cuddly puppy or kitten may seem the “purr-fect” gift, but unfortunately after the holiday season animal shelters are crowded with these surprise presents. Owning a pet is a life-long commitment that not everyone can make. Instead, opt for a stuffed animal toy, pet supplies or an animal ornament.


The Home Vet of Boulder:Have you ever considered a veterinary house call?

The Home Vet of Boulder: Have you ever considered a veterinary house call?

It is an affordable option! And it makes perfect sense for many pets. In my practice a basic housecall fee is $60 and an examination fee ranges from $10-$20. If I see multiple animals only additional exam fees apply.

Cats especially dislike car rides and foreign environments. Many dogs have fear or aggression issues or are old, or just would rather be on their home turf. Humans like the convienece and kids can watch and be involved.

Most procedures can be done in your homne except for x-rays and major surgeries.

Exams, vaccinations, blood work, fecal tests, illness work ups, minor surgical procedures, biopsies/aspirates, acupuncture and euthanasia are some of the most common procedures performed in the home.

Some example home visits include:

  • I have several cats in my Boulder Practice who were just not feeling right. Blood work revealed that they had kidney disease and they are now being treated with fluids, proper diet and medication. The owners are happy and their kitties are “back to normal”.
  • A dog in Longmont has recurring episodes of old dog vestibular disease. The owner calls me regularly when incidents occur and she is concerned. We are in the process of working up this sweet pug.
  • A 21-year-old cat in Louisville was practically unable to walk. She was very weak and had been acting strangely for sometime. She was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. Now she takes 1 pill-a-day and acts as if she is 10-years-old.
  • Finally, an older 95 lb dog in Broomfield with many body lumps was having a more difficult time taking walks with his owner. We did a small blood test and found he is hypothyroid. He is now being treated for his pain and thyroid. He is now swimming, walking his regular walks and losing weight.

Overall mobile veterinary services can be a great fit for many families – providing cost-effective, great care with less stress for your animals.