Are you concerned that your cat or dog is underweight? Aside from looking gaunt, there are some serious health concerns associated with severely underweight pets.
These 5 tips will help you understand your pet's weight loss, and provide you with ideas for making food appealing to your pet again.
1. Just as Bad as Obesity
Obesity gets a lot of attention -- for both pets and humans -- as being problematic to general health, and a leading contributing factor to many serious illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease. However, severely underweight cats and dogs can also suffer from several health problems and quality of life issues as a result of the loss of nutrients. In fact, if a pet loses lots of weight, it should set off as many mental alarm bells as when pets gain lots of weight. Weight loss is particularly troublesome for cats, but all underweight pets will find themselves too cold even in normal temperatures, and missing the essential nutrients to keep their bodies going.
2. Use Your Senses
In many cases, it can be very obvious when your pet loses weight. Cats or dogs will lack interest in food, and will appear slimmer than usual. Other visual cues that your pet has lost weight can include a dull and poorly groomed coat. If you can see your pet’s ribs, they are experiencing severe weight loss.
3. Make Food into a Treat
When pets are reluctant to eat, it’s important to make sure food is as tantalizing as possible. Try warming up canned food slightly, adding delectable additives like an egg, fish oil, or the liquid from a can of tuna. Or, you can try feeding your cat or dog food that’s high in calories, like kitten or puppy food. All of these tips are geared toward reminding your pet of the enjoyment of eating.
A lack of appetite in pets is known as anorexia. It’s not an appearance issue for pets--a loss of appetite can reflect emotional distress. Pets can be leery of change--a move across country, a new baby or pet in the home, or a change to your general routine. Under situations of stress or anxiety, a lack of interest in food or eating is a common response and mode of expressing sadness, stress, or depression.
5. A Visit to the Vet
Because there are so many potential causes for your pet’s decreased appetite and loss of weight--from emotional issues, to a response to change, to disease, to parasites, to dental concerns--it is important for underweight pets to visit the veterinarian.
Through a physical, an inspection of stool samples, an examination of teeth, and other basic tests, a vet can figure out the source of your pet’s weight loss, and determine the best possible treatment plan, ensuring that your pet gains back weight and that the underlying reason for the loss of appetite and weight is addressed.