Obesity in our four-legged family members is one of the most common diseases seen by veterinarians. It is often a sensitive subject with clients, but it is in the best interest of the pet for you to know the risk factors and associated diseases.
One study determined that as many as 40% of dogs are overweight. Older, female spayed dogs are the most likely to struggle with obesity, however, any dog of any age can be affected. Some breeds are more susceptible to obesity such as Labradors, dachshunds, and beagles. It is important to remember that small dogs can be obese, too!
Dogs that are overweight are at much higher risk of developing osteoarthritis. Medium and large breed dogs are at a significantly higher risk of ruptured cranial cruciate ligaments (ACL) in the knees while small dogs are at higher risk for luxating patellas (knee caps).
As many of 52% of domestic cats are considered overweight. While indoor cats are generally more affected, both indoor and outdoor cats can be overweight. Obesity in cats puts them at much higher risk for developing diabetes mellitus and osteoarthritis. Overweight male cats are at higher risk for developing a lower urinary tract obstruction. There is also a condition called “fatty liver disease” that occurs when overweight cats stop eating. This is a life threatening disease that requires aggressive medical treatment. If you notice that your overweight cat has not been eating, please contact your veterinarian.
Determining if Your Pet is Overweight
Veterinarians determine the correct size and weight of your pet based on a scale known as a body condition score. This is a scale of 1-9 (1-3 is underweight, 4-5 is ideal, and 6-9 is overweight) and a scale of 1-5 (1-2 is underweight, 3 is ideal, and 4-5 is overweight). We are assessing five parameters listed in the Purina scales below.
Obesity Prevention and Treatment
Diet and exercise are the two main components to prevent obesity in our companion animals. If your pet is determined to be overweight, there are prescription diets that can help them to lose the weight. Please ask your veterinarian to calculate the correct amount of food for your pet per day. We are here to help!