Pet Obesity & Related Diseases

We know of the climbing rates of human obesity, but do we know that our pets’ weights are climbing right along? Joseph J. Wakshlag, DVM, PhD, assistant professor of clinical nutrition at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, commenting on a report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC&P), said that the CDC&P report cited “an epidemiological trend that is seen across all species. Dogs and cats live in our homes, and…their eating habits are directly related to ours.” They “are subject to many of the same problems associated with obesity in people.”(Dog Watch, March 2012, a publication of Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.)

Indeed, according to the State of Pet Health 2012 Report, published by Banfield Pet Hospital, the incidence of overweight and obesity in dogs increased 37% from 2000 to 2011 – and 90% in cats.

Obesity or overweight was associated with other chronic diseases including:

  • 40% of dogs and 37% of cats with arthritis;
  • 40% of dogs and cats with diabetes;
  • 40% of dogs with high blood pressure; and
  • 60% of dogs with hypothyroidism. ( Dog Watch, July 2012.)

It is estimated that over 50% of dogs in the United States are obese or overweight. In addition to the overweight-associated diseases described above, other consequences include some cancers and heart, lung, and kidney diseases.

Now researchers who conducted a small study at the University of Liverpool in the U.K. found that 20% of obese dogs had metabolic syndrome, common in obese humans. Metabolic syndrome, in which several conditions – such as increased blood glucose and cholesterol – develop simultaneously, could increase the chances of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease. While the exact effect of metabolic syndrome on dogs has not yet been determined, the good news is that weight loss makes the problem go away. (Dog Watch, February 2013.)

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