So, we talked about fitness and resolutions, but what do I really know about it? A lot. I mostly know about pet health and weight correlation, true. But I also know about motivation (or lack thereof.) I know about dragging a baby and a few dogs out to walk when I just want to nap. I know about those days that I don’t get a chance to go out until after the kid is in bed and my husband is home. 7:30 p.m., dark, long day, and now I have to walk the dogs in the dark? You’ve got to be kidding, right? Trust me, I know it.
So we’ve gotten in a few weeks and the resolutions are starting to become less exciting. It alternates between snow, ice and some sort of horrible rain. Things are starting to get tough. So why should we keep on? Sparky is enjoying the couch just fine and who are you to force him outside? This is when I start on my reasons list. WHY it is important for your pet to be at an ideal weight.
People often ask me how much their pet should weigh. I need to feel a pet, see their current body weight and know what they are eating to answer this. But if you start on the BCS chart I talked about last week, you can check in next time you are at the vet. Often what people think is “too thin” is perfect. People often say my pets are too thin, but the truth is that they are forced to stay at a perfect BCS because it is part of my job. We just aren’t used to seeing it! 54% of pets in America are overweight, but these are the reasons why I keep my pets thin.
Pets that are an ideal weight are less prone to developing arthritis. They also maintain better with less pain once arthritis is already present. Exercise also promotes strong muscles and ligaments, which decrease the strain on joints. Regular movement with less weight helps the bones, the cartilage and the joint fluid function more effectively.
Increased fat leads to a higher workload on the heart. It also leads to more fat within the chest and abdomen, which makes it harder for organs to work as efficiently. Overweight cats that stop eating are prone to developing fatty liver disease. In these situations, the body starts mobilizing fat for energy at too high of a rate to make up for what the cat isn’t eating. This, in turn, leads to liver failure.
Fat itself is now recognized as an inflammatory organ. This means that by just being present, excess adipose increases the amount of inflammation the body has to deal with. This leads to many types of health problems, including general immunosuppression. I often feel that people don’t understand the significance of this when I tell them. Essentially, the extra fat that they carry is a ticking time bomb, and while it ticks it throws off harmful rays.
Part of the role that fat plays in cancer isn’t understood and part of it is from the inflammatory activities of fat cells. While cancer is a sad reality in far too many pets’ lives regardless of what we do, we also know that keeping pets at a lean body condition score does decrease their risk of cancer.
So, if you needed some extra motivation on those days you really don’t want to exercise, here is a synopsis: Your pet will live up to 25% longer and have less joint pain. They will have less chance of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and liver failure. Their immune system will be healthier, which in turn helps prevent a lot of diseases. I will keep this short and sweet, but put those reasons on flashcards to help motivate you on days when you need it. Throw a few on your phone calendar to pop up at (in)opportune times and remind you why you DO want to exercise in the dark, snowy nighttime.