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Q&A with Veterinarian Dr. Charles L. Starr III – Pets and Weight Management

In Health and Beauty, Pets on January 20, 2013 at 8:06 am
Charles L. Starr III

Charles L. Starr III

Q: Charles L. Starr III, how do I know if my pet is overweight?

Charles L. Starr III: If you are not able to see your pet’s waistline, it may be in need of shedding a few pounds. Your veterinarian can weigh the pet on its next visit and let you know for certain.

Q: Are obese pets common?

Charles L. Starr III: Unfortunately, we are definitely seeing more and more pets with weight issues daily. This can interfere with a routine check up.

Q: Why do you think pet weight-gain is on the rise?

Charles L. Starr III: Animals throughout history stored fat during prosperous times in preparation for periods of famine. Today, pets ingest nutritional, high-calorie food daily, and many of them do not get enough exercise.

Q: What are pet owners doing wrong?

Charles L. Starr III: We love to give our pet food and treats. But calories add up quickly. Less-than-active lifestyles also contribute. Excess energy turns directly to fat.

Q: Why is weight management for my dogs important?

Charles L. Starr III: In addition to arthritis, diabetes, and breathing problems, excess weight may shorten a dog’s lifespan by up to two full years.

Q: I have a teacup poodle. How can pet owners tell if a tiny pet has a problem?

Charles L. Starr III: We can determine the amount of a pet’s body fat through a body condition score (BCS). This numbered report shows the amount of accumulated fat. Some systems use a five-point scale. A BCS count of one point shows a pet is too thin while high-end numbers indicate that a pet is overweight.

Q: Where do I begin in helping my pet lose weight?

Charles L. Starr III: First, understand that caloric intake versus spent energy is key to any weight loss program. Make a list of the items you currently feed your pet and visit your veterinarian. Pets need fewer calories, but not fewer nutrients. We offer low-calorie, nutritionally balanced pet foods.

Q: What kinds of exercise do you recommend for house pets that are cooped up all day long?

Charles L. Starr III: For cats, feather toys or laser pointers work well. Lengthen your dog’s walks each day and toss toys for retrieval.

Q: How much weight should my pet lose?

Charles L. Starr III: Pets should not lose more than 2% of their body weight each week.

A good BCS score and health improvement are the goal here, not pounds. Think healthy lifestyle management.

Charles L. Starr III practices in Colorado.

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