It is already well known that obesity leads to a variety of health problems in pets, such as osteoarthritis, Diabetes, and overall shortened lifespans. But research reveals another side effect of obesity that may come as a surprise: chronic, low-grade inflammation.
Experts believe that this chronic state of low-grade, continual inflammation caused by obesity leads to orthopedic, respiratory, cardiovascular, pancreatic, and renal diseases. It’s more than simply having extra weight to carry around. The changes that occur in the body are due to the additional adipose tissue which acts as an endocrine organ, secreting hormones, proteins, and growth factors. These substances that are produced by the adipose tissue are collectively called adipokines. High levels of adipokines are associated with chronic inflammation, which leads to the variety of conditions discussed above. Unfortunately, they also lead to increased weight gain, and the cycle of obesity continues.
Weight loss helps pets to not only have better mobility and less pain, but also reduces their risk of many diseases associated with chronic inflammation, making weight loss even more important than previously known.
So what can we do as pet owners to help our pets lose weight? There are a few simple steps we can take. Measuring out the amount of food your pet gets through the day is a great place to start. Increasing their activity and exercise is also helpful. In addition, feeding in creative ways can be very effective in helping pets lose weight. Having pets work for their food also has the added benefit of increasing their mental stimulation and enrichment. Toys such as food balls allow your pet to “hunt” for the kibbles while getting exercise playing with the food ball. You can also use their daily allotment of food as training rewards instead of feeding from a dish. This has multiple benefits of training your pet using positive reinforcement (which leads to better behavior and a better relationship), while not giving any additional calories in the form of treats.
Please let us know if you have any questions regarding obesity, chronic inflammation, or weight loss strategies. Together we can help your pet maintain a healthy weight and a happy life!
Sources cited: Insight magazine (pattersonvet.com)
Photo credits: petsbesthealth.com, amazon.com