02 June 2011

Obesity in pets

Whether it's a lasagne-loving Garfield or a tubby spaniel, those extra kilos are bad for your pet. CyberVet gives us the bottomline on pet obesity.

Obesity is a disease that has been defined as an excessive accumulation of fat in the body to such an extent that it may have an adverse effect on the health of your pet. Obesity generally arises when an animal’s calorie intake exceeds energy utilisation.

  • Endocrine disease:  

            a) Hypothyroidism.

  • Lifestyle factors:     

  • Breed:                     

  • Signalment factors:

  • Iatrogenic: 

  • Owner factors:

  • Behavioural factors:

  • Orthropedic – lameness, cruciate ligament disease, osteoarthritis, hip dysplasia.
  • Endocrine – diabetes mellitus, hypothyroidism, hyperadrenocorticism.
  • Cardiorespiratory – tracheal collapse, hypertension, affects cardiac function.
  • Oncological – increased risk of neoplasia in some studies.
  • Alimentary – pancreatitis, hepatitic steatosis, cirrhosis.
  • Urogential – urinary tract infections, urethral sphincter mechanism incompetence, dystocia, transitional cell carcinoma.

  • Use diets that are specifically formulated for feeding during weight loss.
  • The level of energy allocated must be set correctly. Energy allocation will vary according to the diet, individual and activity levels. Energy calculations must be based on target bodyweight and not on current bodyweight.
  • Weigh daily rations on electronic scales as other methods are unreliable.
  • Do not give additional food.
  • If healthy treats are offered then this must be taken into consideration when calculating the daily overall energy allocation. Treats should account for less than 5% of the total daily requirements. 

  • Promotes fat loss and may assist in maintain lean tissue during weight loss.
  • Each programme must be tailored to the individual and must account for any medical problems.
  • Canine physical activity can encompass one or all of the following: Lead/Off-lead exercise, Swimming, hydrotherapy and treadmill exercise.
  • Feline physical activity can be increased with the use of toys.
  • Play games whereby pets are made to search for their food and the use of feeding toys.
  • Additional benefits include to exercise include improved welfare, mental stimulation, quality of life, mobility, cardiovascular benefits e.t.c.

  • Labour intensive.
  • Close monitoring is essential for successful obesity management. Start every 2 weeks but this period can be extended depending on the weight loss achieved.
  • Always use the same set of scales.
  • It is essential to monitor bodyweight even after the ideal weight has been achieved to ensure that weight loss is maintained. 


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