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Is Your Pet At Risk Due to Obesity?

Categories: Cats, Dogs

56% Of Dogs and 60% Of Cats in the U.s. are Overweight

Obese Lethargic Dog Photo

According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), a non-profit that produces an annual study of pet obesity, 56% of dogs and 60% of cats in the United States are currently clinically overweight, which means that about 86 million dogs and cats in the U.S. pet population are either too heavy or obese.

86 million dogs and cats in the U.S are either too heavy or obese.

The Risks for Overweight Pets

Clinically overweight dogs and cats are highly likely to develop one or more serious medical conditions, some of which can be fatal, and only a few pounds can make the difference. According to the APOP, dogs that are five or more pounds and cats that are two or more pounds over their ideal weight are at increased risk of developing serious medical issues.

Risks for Overweight Dogs

Overweight dogs are at risk for many common disorders, including type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, respiratory disease, heart disease, excessive inflamation, various cancers, osteoarthritis, high blog pressure, and they are expected to live shorter lives than their healthier counterparts. Dogs that are more than five pounds overweight also tend to be less active and lethargic, which further increases the risks.

Risks for Overweight Cats

Overweight cats are also at risk for developing serious conditions, including obese cats being three times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Other common disorders for overweight cats include heart disease, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and various forms of cancer. Like dogs, cats with obesity are expected to live shorter lives than average and tend to be less active and energetic.

Excess weight can reduce your pet’s life expectancy by more than two years.

Reduced Life Expectancy

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), excess weight can reduce your pet’s life expectancy by more than two years – an equavlent of more than ten percent of a pet's life span when considered in dog/cat years.

Overweight cat photo.

How to Tell if Your Pet is Overweight

Chances are, if your pet appears to be overweight, especially when viewed from above, is acting lethargic and is frequently eating or begging for more food, your pet could be overweight.

Body Score Charts 

A body condition score chart can be a helpful first step to determining where your pet falls on a scale of healthy weight.

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) has published simple-to-understand body condition scoring charts for cats and dogs, as well as a helpful body condition score video.

Lethargy and Overeating

If your dog or cat is very inactive, has trouble getting up or walking, and is eating or begging for food like there is tomorrow, those are signs of an overweight or obese pet.

But, Your Veterinarian Knows Best

If you suspect a weight problem, by far the most reliable way to know if your dog or cat is overweight, however, is to allow your veterinarian to assess your pet’s weight and overall health. Vets are able to provide helpful information about determining a pet's weight health that is not just based on pounds on a scale but also by analyzing the body composition of your pet's shape by visual inspection and by feel.

What Do I Do if My Pet is Overweight?

If you suspect your pet may be overweight, it is best to get the advice of your veterinarian, who can make medically-informed recommendations regarding your pet’s weight and prescribe a safe and appropriate weight control regimen based upon your pet's specific breed and age.

A weight control regimen will usually involve a dietary plan that both reduces calories and increased exercised. It is imporant to seek the guidance of your veterinarian regarding your pet's weight-loss plan to ensure that your dog or cat continues to receive proper nutrition and gets a healthy amount of exercise.


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