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Obesity in Pets

Obesity in pets

Obesity in Pets

Obesity in Pets

Obesity is the most common disease in cats and dogs in the UK with approximately 40% of all cats and dogs classed as overweight or obese, and just as in humans, it has serious consequences for an animal’s health. Obesity occurs when the animal eats excessive calories for the amount of energy it uses.

Obesity predisposes pet animals to many diseases and can exacerbate many others. The most common types are listed in the table below:

Cats      

  • Diabetes
  • Urinary obstruction
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Respiratory disease
  • Liver problems

Dogs 

  • Pancreatitis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Respiratory disease
  • Incontinence
  • Cancer
  • High blood pressure

Rabbits

  • Pressure sores on feet
  • Fly strike
  • Bladder problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Liver problems

To determine if your pet is overweight can be difficult because there is no BMI (body mass index of height versus weight) for pets. This is especially true in dogs, because different breeds have very varied body shapes. Your veterinary surgeon will be able to guide you with this by performing a body condition score on your pet. This evaluates your pet in terms of a number of visual and tactile parameters and then grades their body condition between 1 and 5, with 3 being ideal.

If your pet is overweight or obese then your vet will propose an ideal target weight, and then help to guide you to any changes in terms of diet and/or exercise to help achieve this target. In some cases this may involve being switched to a lower calorie or weight loss prescription diet. These are specially formulated to allow weight loss through reduced calories, whilst maintaining a healthy balanced diet. Any switch between diets is recommended to be carried out gradually over a period of a week.

Once on the diet, regular weight checks should be performed every 6-8 weeks to make sure the weight loss is effective and also not too rapid. I offer free weight clinics, so please feel free to contact me to request an appointment.

Once the target weight for your pet is reached then a maintenance amount can be calculated. To reduce the chance of regaining the excess weight, the food should be measured out, treats kept to a minimum and exercise encouraged.

Obesity is a serious disease for animals and by making sure your pet is feed the correct amount and not overweight will ensure they are healthier and happier.

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About Richard Harper (25 Articles)
We put your pet's health at the heart of everything we do and take great pride in providing expert, compassionate care to all our patients.