Dangers of pet obesity – Entertainment & Life – The Times

Increased risk for diabetes, arthritis, cancer, liver and gall bladder disorders, fatty liver disease in cats, metabolic syndrome, Cushing’s disease and heart disease are some of the more likely consequences for pets that suffer from obesity, and a shortened life expectancy as a result of these health conditions is also increasingly likely.


Does an overweight pet have an increased risk of illness? Other than the cost of the extra food, what other expenses can occur as a result of pets being heavy? Why should we care about our pets becoming overweight? Is there any harm in giving a few extra treats, especially if they’re small?

We know that there are many short- and long-term negative effects for humans who carry extra weight. Unsurprisingly, health problems related to increased body fat and obesity in pets are similar. Increased risk for diabetes, arthritis, cancer, liver and gall bladder disorders, fatty liver disease in cats, metabolic syndrome, Cushing’s disease and heart disease are some of the more likely consequences for pets that suffer from obesity, and a shortened life expectancy as a result of these health conditions is also increasingly likely. The cost of treating those conditions, even only for the last few years of a pet’s life, can result in bills that reach into five figures, or tens of thousands for a hard-to-manage diabetic.

It’s estimated that 55 to 60 percent of pets in our country are overweight or obese. These numbers are rising along with the growing obesity problem in our human population. Contributors to these rising numbers include more processed foods available for pets and people, a lack of understanding about the changes in food production that lead to slower metabolism and more food cravings, and more sedentary lifestyles.

A high percentage of pet owners visiting my practice express surprise when informed that their pets are overweight. They consider that carrying an extra pound or two is normal, but for a 10-pound pet that gains 2 pounds in winter, that is a 20 percent weight gain and is approaching obesity.

Because many pet owners don’t know how to evaluate ideal weight, and have a hard time figuring out how much to feed, it is important to schedule regular exams for your pet. Your veterinarian should weigh your pet and provide a Body Condition Score. This number, based on a scale of 1-5 or 1-9, is an indicator of fat compared to muscle mass. I personally prefer the 1-9 scale, with a number of 4 or 5 being healthy for most pets. Lower BCS numbers indicate emaciation, while higher numbers are associated with overweight and obese conditions.

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