Written by Staff Veterinarian
Obesity in dogs and cats
- 30-50% of adult dogs and cats are clinically obese with one study reporting 63% of cats being obese.
- Most cases of obesity arise from simple over eating and lack of physical activity – just like people
- Check with your family veterinarian and ask the following questions: Is my pet a proper weight and is he/she on the proper diet? A Veterinarian’s role is to counsel pet owners on pet nutrition.
Clinical consequences and why you would need to see a specialist:
- Poor quality and quantity of life: lifetime study showed that leaner dogs live 1.8 yrs longer than their overweight counterparts and the slimmer dogs had a delayed onset of chronic illness.
- Chronic arthritis or osteoarthritis: as little as 6-8% weight loss has led to significant decreases in subjective and objective lameness scores.
- Back disease or a slipped disc: in a study of 700 dogs it was shown that being overweight increased the risk for disc disease.
- Metabolic and endocrine conditions such as pancreatitis and diabetes.
- Heart disease, hypertension and respiratory disease.
- Reduced immunity.
- Association with cancer.
Management of obesity (reduced calorie intake and increased physical activity).
- Well-designed program by health care professionals to promote appropriate weight loss
- 1% weight loss per week is a good target that is safe with caution in cats regarding weight loss due to the potential for this species to have fatty liver syndrome.
- Life style changes (increased physical activity).
- Drug therapy: medications such as dirlotapide (Slentrol) can also be used to promote weight loss.
- Life stage feeding in health is well suited to dogs and cats and has become a very popular way to council pet owners on nutrition.
- Clinical nutrition in disease is an extremely important part of disease management and multiple pet food companies have prescription lines of food that have undergone a lot of research and development.
Benjamin Franklin’s quote, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” may keep you from having to see a specialist to manage conditions that occur because of obesity.