Franklin Vets Blog

Obesity in pets

June 28, 2017

Obesity. It is a topic commonly addressed in human health and medicine, but one that is often misunderstood by pet owners. So often we hear people say they prefer their animals to be round and cuddly. Many owners say that feeding their animals is how they show their love, bond and interact with their pets. But is all this actually causing direct harm?

What defines obesity in our pets?

Recent studies in the US show that up to as many as 55% of domestic pets are deemed overweight or obese. And how do we determine whether an animal’s weight is healthy or not? Veterinary staff members use something called Body
Condition Scoring to achieve this. This is a method that focuses on fat cover, rather than weight, as a measurement of an animal’s position on a spectrum between underweight and obese.

body conditioning

Why is obesity such an issue for our pets?

It has been shown in studies that large breed dogs can lose up to 15% off their lifespan if they are overweight and over fed. These impacts of obesity can also be seen in smaller breed dogs and cats. The way in which lifespan is so drastically affected is by early onset of a variety of disease processes. Some of the conditions that can occur as a result of excess weight are:

  • Exercise intolerance, decreased stamina
  • Respiratory compromise (breathing difficulty)
  • Heat intolerance
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Diabetes or insulin resistance
  • Liver disease or dysfunction
  • Osteoarthritis (lameness)
  • Increased surgical/anaesthetic risk
  • Lowered immune system function
  • Increased risk of developing malignant tumours (cancer).

How does Franklin Vets manage pet obesity?

We strive to perform a Body Condition Score on every animal that visits for a consultation. For any animal outside of the ideal weight range we will support you in achieving safe and effective weight loss results for your pet. The goal is not to chastise owners of overweight animals. We understand how difficult weight management is in our pets and instead we hope to support and encourage effective weight loss. Our sincere focus is that your pet will live a healthier and longer life.

What is involved in Weight Management?

  1. Initial consult
    1. Body condition score evaluation
    2. Establishment of ideal weight for individual animal
    3. Discussion of the animal’s lifestyle and diet
    4. Establish goals for rate of weight loss
    5. Recommendations for dietary and lifestyle changes
  2. Follow up consults are recommended at monthly intervals after this to track weight loss and ensure that the rate of loss is both safe and effective. Eventually revisit intervals can be stretched out to 6-monthly to ensure there is no relapse towards weight gain.

Don’t hesitate to pop in and ask one of our friendly staff members about your pet’s weight and what you can be doing to ensure your animal lives a long and happy life.