Dangers of Pet Obesity

Sports Medicine Services

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).

  • Nutrition.
  • 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.

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