VET’S VIEW: When to be worried about over-eating

SHOULD you be worried if your pet is eating more than usual?

Most of us dog owners, I suspect, know that our pets would eat more than they need given the chance, and so we have to be quite pro-active in keeping them trim.

Cats tend to be a bit more discerning, eating according to their need, although some can get hooked on a particular food (especially dried foods) and end up over-eating.

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However, a change in eating habits should always be investigated as it may indicate

a problem, especially if there are other abnormal signs present.

It is worth keeping a check on your pet’s weight.

Ask your vet to weigh your cat, or pop your dog on the scales whenever you visit the surgery.

An animal which is simply overeating might be expected to gain weight, but if it is losing weight, or gaining weight unevenly, perhaps acquiring a bit of a pot-belly, then it should definitely be investigated.

It is worth noting if your pet is drinking more, or if it has loose stools, and checking too for any changes in demeanour: is it lethargic or more lively than usual?

All this will help your vet to pinpoint any problems.

Some common causes of increased appetite include problems with the pancreas or intestines leading to poor absorption of nutrients, hormonal conditions such as diabetes mellitus and Cushing’s disease, and, in older cats, an overactive thyroid gland.

Of course, sometimes overeating is just that, and provided your vet has ruled out any underlying problems, you might need to consider a pet weight clinic.

Most surgeries offer these as a free service and they can be a valuable source of advice on the best diets and feeding tips, as well as moral support.

Just ask at reception for details.