(Photo by Kristin Gordon)
COPPERAS COVE (June 29, 2013) -- As Aurora climbs into the water treadmill at the Animal Medical Center Copperas Cove, she looks up at her owner for support.
"You can do it," said registered veterinarian technician Kristen Solack.
"That's a good girl."
Solack says that two years ago, her canine, Aurora, started putting on the pounds. At her heaviest, she tipped the scale at 108 pounds.
"It really started causing problems with for her for her weight and her hips and just her movements," said Solack.
When dogs become obese, they are at risk for problems with their joints, veterinarian Kelly Henton says.
"I have seen some really horrible problems and pain associated with obesity and arthritis in older dogs."
Henton likes to look at the overall shape.
"What we want to see is a nice waist from the side and top.
We all know certain breeds of dogs have more defined waists like Great Danes then like Pugs. They will never really have a defined waist.
You should be able to feel the ribs with very light pressure on either side of the chest.
You also want to be able to feel their pelvic bones with a little bit of pressure, but you don't want to be able to see any of those bones.
You don't want to be able to put your hand on them and just feel them. You should be able to put a little bit of pressure on them to feel those bones."
Walking in the water helps Aurora's joints and provides a fast burn as she pushes against the water with her legs.
Solack's cat, Solo, has also gotten a little fluffier.
"He just loves to eat," said Solack.
"From the time he was little he has been ravenous about food, and during the past year I have noticed the weight gain."
Solack says she won’t give in when Solo meows at her or tries to herd her to the food bowl.
"He should have a nice up-tuck under the belly which I can't even produce right now because the extra fat under here," said Solack as she grabbed Solo's low hanging underbelly.
Typically in overweight cats we see arthritis, but we see more issues with diabetes and potentially some liver problems and things like that," said Henton.
"The only way we can treat diabetes is with insulin injections and no one wants to do that."
Henton says that most cats do best on a higher protein and lower carbohydrate diet. "We call it the 'catkins' diet," said Henton.
The protein diet is closer to their natural diet and seems to curb their hunger better, according to Henton.
It is also better for their kidneys, because it has more water in it.
"I've seen, cats develop diabetes and this becomes really difficult for the owners to treat for whatever reason," said Henton.
"It then leads to their eventual death. Also the liver problem called hepatic lipidosis can occur due to weight gain.
They have a lot of fat in their system and anything happens. They don't feel good and their liver can actually shut down because they don't eat for a few days."
Solack used the laser pointer and cat toys to keep Solo active. About a half an hour each day of activity is best for maintaining and losing weight, according to Henton.
Following the feeding guidelines on pet food packaging can lead to weight gain. Henton says that most of the portions are for animals who are breeding and need the extra calories.
If an animal is spayed or neutered, they will not need as much food.
For those who don't like over the counter foods, Henton says a well-rounded homemade diet is fine, but make sure it's rationed out properly.
Table scraps are very bad for pets, especially fatty foods, according to Henton. "Fatty foods can cause a world of problems with dogs including pancreatitis," said Henton.
"If they get a high fat meal then they are at more risk of developing pancreatitis. That's very very painful and can lead to death."
Solack said she got a good comment from Henton during Aurora's last check-up.
"She is no longer looking like a table with legs that we can put our drinks on and she can cater to everybody.
"She's now getting to be fit and trim."
Find out more about overweight pets at: www.petobesityprevention.com