The Often Forgotten Health Problems Obesity Causes in Cats and Dogs

The Often Forgotten Health Problems Obesity Causes in Cats and Dogs

Health & Safety

With the new year comes a whole lot of good intentions both for owners and their pets. According to studies in the UK, a large proportion of cats and dogs are carrying far too much weight which can be extremely bad for their overall health and well-being. If you think your pet is overweight, it's a great time of the year to rethink their diet and get them back into shape or they could suffer from a few often forgotten health issues associated with being obese!

The Dangers of Obesity in Cats and Dogs

As most pet owners know, obesity in cats and dogs carries a heavy price which puts pets in danger of developing some very serious and life-threatening health issues. This includes kidney disease, lung disease and it even puts cats and dogs more at risk of developing certain forms of cancer.

However, there are other health concerns associated with obesity in dogs and cats which are often overlooked, but which can make life incredibly uncomfortable for our pets. This includes the following disorders:

  • Anal gland problems
  • Skin issues and disorders

Cats & Dogs Can Suffer From Anal Gland Impaction

When a dog or a cat carries too much weight or they are indeed obese, it can seriously affect their anal glands causing a painful impaction which could result in the glands rupturing. Anal glands are also known as anal sacs"" and they are found just below the animal's anus. They produce a waxy substance which is released through tiny openings in the sacs. Every dog and cat has their own unique ""odour"" contained in the wax released through their anal sacs, it's how dogs and cats identify each other.

What Happens When Things Work Normally

When things are working normally, dogs and cats release the waxy substance when they do their ""business"" leaving their scent in their faeces, but they can also leave their ""scent"" on its own which is how they mark their territories. There are quite a few breeds that suffer from anal sac impaction which includes small dogs like the Chihuahua and Miniature Poodles to name but two. However, overweight or obese dogs are often not able to squeeze the muscles responsible for releasing the waxy paste from their anal sacs too and this is where all the problems can start resulting in a lot of pain and discomfort.

When this happens, the sacs have to be manually massaged to make sure the contents are released so they do not build up which can cause a lot of discomfort for a dog or cat. Some animals will lick their bottoms in order to release the contents, whereas other dogs or cats will rub their bottoms along the ground in an attempt to empty the contents of their anal sacs too.

Overweight cats and dogs find it hard to reach their bottoms in order to empty their sacs by licking them which is a real problem. Obese animals will have fatty pads that develop around their anus which prevents them from effectively emptying the sacs when they rub their bums along the ground. Again, this results in a painful and smelly build-up of waxy paste in their anal glands and when a visit to the vet would be in order sooner rather than later.

What Happens When Anal Sacs Don't Empty

When a dog or cat's anal sac fails to empty as it should because they are carrying too much weight, the glands start to swell up and it's this that causes them a lot of pain and discomfort. It can lead to a serious infection taking hold and this in turn results in glands rupturing. Once a gland has ruptured it then makes the condition much worse because an open wound would develop in what can only be described as a very sensitive part of a cat or dog's body!

It is not a life-threatening condition as such, but it is very painful one and a cat or dog suffering with a ruptured anal gland would need to see a vet as soon as possible to make them more comfortable and to avoid any unnecessary discomfort. The cost of the veterinary treatment can be expensive and the only way of preventing it from happening is to make sure a cat or dog is not carrying too much weight and if they are, to make sure their anal sacs are regularly checked by the vet, bearing in mind that the sacs can fill at different rates.

Obese Cats Suffer From Matted Hair and Flaky, Dry Skin

All too often when a cat becomes obese they develop matted hair on their back legs as well as along their spines. This is because they are unable to groom themselves as they normally would. Cats are constantly grooming themselves to get rid of any hair they shed and when they are carrying too much weight or they are obese, they just cannot reach these particular areas of their body and the result is matted, dirty hair.

They also have a tendency to develop flaky, dry skin in these same areas which over time become cracked and sore. Once there is an open sore, infection can take hold and this can lead to all sorts of other health issues that are typically really hard to clear up, more so because the cat's immune system could well be compromised because they are carrying too much weight.

It would be up to the owner of an obese cat to make sure they groom their pets on a regular basis to ensure no shed hair remains in their coat which could lead to matting and dry, flaky skin. The thing to bear in mind, is that no amount of grooming an owner does can replace how cats groom themselves, therefore carrying too much weight compromises their ability to keep themselves in tip top condition which in the end negatively impacts their overall health and well being.

Obesity in Cats and Dogs Causes Anal Skin Rash

If you share your home with a long-haired cat or dog that boasts glorious feathers on their tails or around their back-ends, they can suffer from very painful and sore skin rashes around a sensitive area of their body which is especially true when they carry too much weight or are obese. Once a rash flares up it usually means the irritation will result in open sores creating the perfect environment for bacteria to take hold causing a serious and difficult to treat infection.

Should a cat or dog have the runs, or their stools are looser than usual, they are unable to reach their backsides to clean themselves up which again results in them having a ""dirty bottom"". This often means a lot of poo builds up around their bottoms and naturally although this can be smelly, often owners don't realise there is a problem until an infection has taken hold and a painful skin rash has developed. These rashes are notoriously difficult to clear up because of where they are. A vet would need to shave the area and then apply a topical antibiotic treatment and might even have to put a cat or a dog on a course of oral antibiotics. A dog or cat might even have to wear the dreaded ""collar of shame"" until the rash has cleared up!


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