Before being considered as ‘pet parents’, they all are human beings, which means most of them love to show their love through the love language of ‘food’ as it's a universal language. So, to show affection and care towards pets, pet parents often feed different and ample foods to their pets. Especially new pet parents, as they are trying their best to understand their pet’s needs and don’t want to starve them with their lack of knowledge. This love language for your pets is understandable, as feeding your pet is essential as it provides the necessary nutrients, vitamins, and minerals required for your pet’s health. But, if you as pet parents show this love language in excessive amounts aka overfeeding your pet, the consequences can be hazardous.
Consequences of overfeeding
Overfeeding is one of the most common issues among pet parents. It compromises your pet’s quality of life and even quantity.
The most noticeable effect of overfeeding your pet is obesity. In recent years, pet obesity has become a considerable epidemic. When the amount of food that gets converted into energy is more than the energy your pet spends during activities they do. The difference between the two energies then gets stored in your pet’s body, which makes them gain moderate to excessive weight(makes your pet overweight). You can check if your pet is obese by moving your hands around their ribs. If you have to apply a little pressure to feel the ribs, it means your pet is overweight(susceptible to being obese), and if you have to put more than some pressure, your pet is obese. Obese pets may look chubby and cute, but it makes it difficult for these ‘cute’ pets to move around, which can make them gain more weight, and when they move, it will make them prone to injuries.
It may happen even when you unknowingly feed your pet extra treats to make them happy, which is wrong, as one should only give treats that makeup just 10% of your pet’s calorie intake. If not taken care of immediately, obesity puts your pet at a higher risk of diabetes and heart disease.
When your pet is overfed, their digestive system has to work overtime to digest the increased amount of food. It may put tension on your pet’s digestive system, which can result in your pet's loose stools or diarrhea. As the digestive system is unable to work efficiently, it can make your pet release excessive gas(save yourself from the stink!!)or can cause them to be bloated or make gastric dilation volvulus(GSV), which is as scary as it sounds as it causes twists in your pet’s digestive system causing terrible pain and lead to several other severe issues.
Carbohydrates(carbs) and Sugars are present in every food, which after consumption enters our bloodstream as glucose(a form of sugar aka blood sugar) to provide energy to every part of the body. This entry is controlled by a hormone called insulin produced by the pancreas. When a pet becomes overweight due to being overfed, it puts pressure on the pancreas, which makes it unable to make the insulin needed to regulate the blood sugar levels, making the pet diabetic. If not caught and treated, it can lead to organ failure and eventually death, which can be prevented easily in the first place by not overfeeding your pet.
In every being, a heart's function is to pump blood all over the body. When your pet gains weight, there is much more area to pump blood. So, just like with the digestive system and pancreas, the increased weight makes your pet’s heart overwork, which in turn can cause heart diseases.
As discussed above, overfeeding your pet in many cases, makes your pet gain weight. The excess weight puts additional pressure on their joints, causing discomfort and affecting their quality of life. If not taken care of, it leads to pain and inflammation of these joints, leading to arthritis. One might think this problem is limited to older pets, which is untrue.
Your pet’s body needs nourishment for its growth; any imbalance can cause problems. Just like under-nourishment, over-nourishment has its drawbacks. If your pet is overfed, it is being over-nourished, which can cause several skin problems. It can cause excessive shedding as the body uses this shredded fur to eliminate toxic waste, food intolerances, excessive nutrients, and overfeeding. It may also cause your pet’s skin to dry out and itch, as in the absence of parasites, dog’s and cat’s skin conditions are connected to nutrition.
- The increased amount of fats around the different organs of your pet’s body puts stress on them, hindering their adequate function. It puts tension on your pet’s lungs, making it hard to breathe.
- Overfed pets are known to be lethargic, as moving causes their joints and organs to hurt. So, if your pet is acting lazy for an extended time rather than being their usual naughty self, even if they do not look overweight, there is a high possibility that they are overfed.
- In some pets, especially the ones that belong to the minimum tear stain group, frequent tear stains can be a sign of them being overfed, as these stains are a way for the body to eliminate toxic and excessive substances from the pet’s body.
- Some cases show that overfed pets have a shorter life expectancy than well-fed pets(not underfed, not overfed). These studies show that these well-fed pets live up to 2 ½ years more than overfed ones.
- Pet parents love their pets more than their wallets, that’s without a doubt. But, it is better to spend the money on new toys and healthy food for your pet than on their medicines and vet visits, which will happen if you overfeed your pet. Overfeeding your pet means more food, which costs more money, and then when you spend tons on vet visits to know the problem and to get your pet on a special diet, this new diet again may cost much more. Although not that important, feed your pet well, and you’ll get a slightly better monetary benefit.
How can you prevent it
All the above problems can be avoided easily by making sure your pet maintains an ideal body condition. This Ideal body condition happens when your pet is well-fed, not under or over, eats a well-balanced diet, regularly exercises, and munches on just a few treats. Your pet must be in this ideal body as pets that fall in this category are known to live a happier, healthier, and longer life, which every pet parent wants for their pet. Let us further discuss the steps you can take to ensure you don’t overfeed the fur babies.
- Sit with your veterinarian to discuss your pet’s diet, which depends on their breed, age, weight, any allergies, and other factors well explained by your vet.
- Make a feeding timetable for your pet so you can be sure that you aren’t double feeding them, and train them to abide by this timetable so they don’t feel the hunger pangs before meal time.
- Your pets might love Purepet, Meo Persian Cat food, Canine Creek, Whiskas cat dry food, or Smartheart dog food, which all pets love. Giving them only the exact amount made for them will benefit you and them.
- Pre-measure their meals using proper measuring instruments and storing them in appropriate containers for the coming week or so ensures that even in a rush, you feed your pet only the amount of food needed for them.
- Opt for low-calorie treats, as you can give more to your pet while not affecting their overall calorie intake. Even better, you can give your pet treats in pieces that will not only keep them motivated but also keep them healthy. You can even give them human food that is safe as treats(Check with your vet to be double sure!).
- Ensure that your pet gets enough exercise. Don’t restrict it to walks but include fun obstacle courses, fetch, or interactive games to keep their mind and bodies active.
- If you have several pets, keep an eye on them while they comp on their meals cause we all know that one pet loves to eat everyone’s food.
- Train them to not give you those puppy eyes during your dinner or snack time, and even when they do, avoid it for their good. You can do this by ignoring their begging(we know it hurts!), and when they stop begging, give them a treat for being their good self.
- Frequently check their weight and their playfulness, it can be a sign if anything’s up with your pet, and take them for regular vet visits.
Keep an eye on how your pet’s body looks, and even touch them thoroughly from time-to-time to find if they are gaining or losing a few pounds, both of which are harmful. If your pet has short fur, you should be able to look at their lean body and maybe a slight pattern of their ribs. If they have a furry body, you should be able to feel their ribs with a short touch. If they have prominent ribs, which they should not have, try upping their diet a little, and if you have to apply pressure around the ribs to feel their existence, your fur baby might need to be fed a little less. Even when this diet change doesn’t help, book an appointment with your vet, as your pet and your pocket will thank you.PC: https://dogsbestlife.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/pet-obesity.jpg