Weight loss in pets

Weight loss in pets is often hard for owners to see. This is because it is often a gradual progress. Seeing our pets everyday means you would need to notice the tiny change each day, which is very unlikely. It is much more likely that a vet or friend, who sees your pet less often, is more likely to notice. If you do notice your pet is losing weight, we suggest you contact us as soon as possible, as this could mean the weight loss is happening rapidly which could be suggestive of a serious health problem that needs addressing.

Why does weight loss occur?

Weight loss occurs when your pet is in a negative energy balance. This means the calories burnt by your pet equals more than the calories being supplied and absorbed from the food given. When a pet loses weight, they may be losing, fat, muscle or stored glycogen.

Desired weight loss in overweight animals is a good thing. Being overweight can make mobility and bone health deteriorate, as well as increasing the risks of some diseases such as heart disease. But if your pet loses more than 10% bodyweight in an unplanned manner, it is an issue.

What causes unplanned weight loss in our pets?

Undesired weight loss means your pet is using up more energy than it is eating. There are multiple reasons as to why your pet may be losing weight. You should think about what other symptoms your pet is displaying, as this will really help your vet to narrow down their list of causes, meaning we should reach a conclusion sooner.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • –  Has your pet’s activity level changed?
  • –  Do they have any new symptoms, such as coughing, vomiting or diarrhoea?
  • –  Has their fur changed its appearance?
  • –  Has their appetite changed?
  • –  Are there any changes when eating – e.g. dropping food, salivating/dribbling more?
  • –  What do their faeces look like (pictures may be beneficial)?
  • –  Have there been any changes to their drinking or urination? Answering the questions above and thinking about these things will help vets to have a better idea what the cause of the weight loss is – typically, a dietary, dental, gastrointestinal, kidney, liver, heart or endocrine issue. Dietary issues It is very important that you think about the amount of food your pet needs. As your pet’s body performs different processes, the amount of calories they need will vary. Pregnancy, growing, feeding puppies, going on an extra walk amongst other things require a significant increase in calories consumed. If you have more than one pet and you are worried your pet is losing weight, you should try to feed your pets in separate rooms. This helps because you will learn exactly how much

each pet is eating. If possible, you should do the same with water and you can therefore see if the volume of water being drunk by your pet is also increasing. Monitoring faeces and urine volume and frequency can be useful in determining the cause of the weight loss.

If you are worried that your pet is not getting enough calories or not getting the correct amount of macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fat), please contact us. We are more than happy to suggest the best diet for your pet. In doing so, we will consider breed, age, goal and budget, amongst other factors, as well as the frequency and volume of food.

Weighing my pet from home

The easiest way to know and be sure that your pet’s health is changing is by having a changing statistical value to compare to other statistics – this is what we get by weighing your pet! If you are unsure what weight your pet should be, please contact the vets. We can let you know the optimum weight range for your pet and what weight we recorded for your pet on their last visits, meaning you have values to compare your weight recording to.

Here are a few simple steps to follow if you plan to weigh your pet at home.

  1. Stand on your home scales and record how much you weigh
  2. Step off the scales and allow them to reset
  3. Pick up your pet and make sure they are restrained safely and securely
  4. Step onto the scales whilst holding your pet and record the weight
  5. Take the recording from step 4 and subtract the recording from step 1 to get your pet’s weight
  6. Keep a record of your pet’s weight so it is easy to spot any changes whether they are gradual or sudden. We recommend putting it into a little note book along with any other pet documents you have such as, the vaccination record, microchip details or passport.

We recommend you to weigh your pet monthly if possible. Once your weigh in becomes a routine, you will find it very easy and simple to do! Please be aware that pregnant or young, growing pets’ weight will naturally vary.

If you feel like your pet is losing weight, please contact us. We will be able to weigh your pet, compare their weight to previous recordings and use our body condition charts to assess the current condition score for your pet. We are able to advise specific diets best suited to your pet. We are able to work through a thorough diagnostic plan and provide quality care to ensure your pet will be as comfortable as possible.

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