21 February 2008

One Third of US Dogs Are Obese, Cats Also Suffer

According to a recent study published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, the prevalence of obesity in dogs is between 22 and 40 percent. The reasons and the remedies for the problem seem to mirror each other across species. These include decreased physical activity, age, and an increased caloric intake, according to Dr. Craig Thatcher of Blacksburg, Va., a professor in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech, noted veterinary nutritionist, and charter diplomate in the American College of Veterinary Nutrition.

Genetics can also increase a pet’s risk of being overweight, Thatcher said. Labrador retrievers, beagles, and cocker spaniels are all breeds that are more like to carry some extra pounds. There are also endocrine diseases that are associated with obesity that must also be considered and ruled out, before the pet undergoes weight reduction, said Thatcher.

Like humans, there are also many health problems associated with being obese. Dogs and cats that are overweight may be predisposed to develop diabetes mellitus. They may also suffer from decreased heat tolerance and stamina, increased dermatological conditions, decreased immune function, and multiple musculoskeletal and orthopedic problems. If an owner suspects his or her pet is overweight, the first step is to contact their veterinarian.

“Avoiding obesity is an important part of the overall wellness of an animal,” said Thatcher. “Pets and their owners alike will enjoy a much higher quality of life when the pet maintains a healthy weight.” The Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine established one of the nation’s first clinical nutrition training programs more than 20 years ago, thanks to Thatcher’s leadership. Today, the college’s programs in this area enjoy wide respect from throughout the profession.

[Source: ScienceDaily]