Handling Obesity In The Pet Care Facility
By Outstanding Pet Care Learning Center
Just as in humans, obesity is now a very common disease seen in pets. According to a 2015 study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, about 53% of dogs and 58% of cats are overweight or obese.
As a pet care professional, it’s important to fully understand obesity and nutrition so you can provide each individual pet the care they deserve.
The Overweight or Obese Pet
Many times, a pet parent won’t realize their dog or cat is overweight or see it as a threat to their pet’s wellbeing. Certain breeds gain weight more easily than others (such as Labrador Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels, Dachshunds, and Beagles), but all breeds are susceptible. Many times, obesity results from an improper diet. Obesity can lead to other problems, including diabetes, breathing problems, arthritis, back problems, high blood pressure, ruptured ACL (cruciate ligament in the knee joint), and shortened life span.
Problems Associated with Obesity
- Obesity can be caused by various conditions including:
- Diabetes mellitus
- Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland)
- Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s disease; overactive adrenal gland)
- Decreased activity due to arthritis or back pain
- Medications (prednisone, phenobarbital)
- In turn, obesity can make pets more vulnerable to various illnesses and disorders including:
- Diabetes mellitus
- Heart problems and high blood pressure
- Arthritis and hip dysplasia
- Torn ligaments (especially the ACL or cruciate ligament in the knee)
- Breathing problems (especially in brachycephalic breeds like Bulldogs)
- Back problems
Doing Your Part
Good nutrition in the pet care facility is important when it comes to maintaining a pet’s health and happiness during their time with you. In addition, pet owners may look to you as the professional to make suggestions regarding their pet’s nutrition. It is important for you to be versed in the many options when it comes to pet food and treats, but you should always encourage owners to seek and take a veterinarian’s advice. Strong relationships with community vets will allow you to provide owners with the best information relevant to their pet.
Feeding in the Pet Care Facility
Encouraging owners to provide their pet’s own diet for the duration of their stay can help to prevent digestive issues that come along with sudden diet changes. Still, it’s important to offer a high-quality option as an alternative. Some pet care facilities may elect to feed “sensitive stomach,” “low residue” or “intestinal” diets to help prevent lose stool or diarrhea associated with the changes of environment and routine while lodging. You might seek a veterinarian’s advice in selecting an ideal feeding option for pets in a lodging environment.
Your Role As a Professional
A comprehensive understanding of animal nutrition is essential to successfully filling the role of pet care professional. If owners lean on you for advice, you may have a unique perspective on their pet’s health and habits. Discussing obesity and proper feeding techniques with pet parents should be done respectfully, without placing blame. No one wants to hear that their pet is obese or that the special treats they so lovingly provide their pet could be harmful. You can help shed light on their situation, but it’s always suggested you refer them to their veterinarian for assessment and further recommendations.
Everyone in the pet care industry shares something in common: we love animals, and we love making them happy. Every pet that comes through your doors has a unique set of habits, preferences, and medical needs. Being educated and prepared will help you to provide the best possible experience for your customers while helping guide them to their healthiest, happiest life.
For the industry’s most comprehensive staff training, go to www.OPCLearningCenter.com