News & Information

Keep abreast of the latest in pet care news as well as helpful hints for a happier pet.

So many of the pets I meet are overweight or obese.  Did you know...

 

Orthopedic

Obesity is a major risk factor in several disorders of the bones and associated structures, especially in dogs.  There is an increased likelihood of both injury and degenerative disease to the joints and bones of overweight pets.  Specifically, there is a strong association between obesity and osteoarthritis.  Carrying extra weight can predispose pets to cranial cruciate ligament rupture and other orthopedic injuries.  Cats too are more likely to develop lameness if they are obese. 

 

Respiratory System

The physical and physiologic burden of the excess fat and mass in obese dogs can lead not only to exercise intolerance, but also exacerbation of respiratory conditions such as laryngeal paralysis, tracheal collapse (small or toy breeds), severe heatstroke, and the obstructive airway disease common in brachycephalic breeds of dogs (those with flattened noses, including Boxers, Bulldogs, and Pugs).  These conditions can become life-threatening if not addressed.

 

Endrocrine Disorders

Type 2 diabetes mellitus occurs when the body's cells develop "insulin resistance," meaning that they have become unable to effectively use the available insulin.  Type 2 diabetes can be directly linked to obesity and is the most common form of diabetes in cats.  Losing weight can lead to improvement and even complete resolution of diabetic signs in cat.

 

Dogs tend to develop Type 1 diabetes mellitus in which the specialized cells of the pancreas are damaged and no longer produce enough insulin.  While obesity is one potential factor in the development of diabestes in dogs, the underlying association is not clear.  Unlike some cats, diabetic dogs will require insulin administration to control their signs throughout their lives. 

 

Kidneys

Obesity can lead to both structural and functional changes in the kidneys that may become severe with long-term obesity.  Hypertension associated with obesity can lead to kidney disease and even kidney failure.

 

Cardiovascular System

In addition to the development of hypertension, or high blood pressure, there are many mechanisms at work with obesity that are detrimental to the heart.  Increased load placed on the heart as well as effects on the heart muscle itself can occur in obese dogs.  Obesity-related heart muscle disease can lead to cardiac failure.  For some of these dogs, weight loss alone can improve heart function depending on the severity and duration of the obesity. 

 

Mouth and Gastrointestinal Tract

For obese pets, diseases of the mouth are common.  There is also an increased risk for developing gastrointestinal disease, and a predisposition to diarrhea in obese cats.  Oral cavity diseases and pancreatitis can also be consequesnces of obesity in dogs. 

  

Source: Healthy Pet, Fall 2013 issue

 

TRUE CONFESSION - my own dog was once obese. One day I asked my agility instructor why she thought Dory wasn't running as fast as she used to. She said, "Oh, I've been meaning to tell you...your dog is FAT."  Her weight gain had snuck up on us and we didn't even realize it.  I can't believe I expected this poor dog to be an athlete! 

 

Here are the "before" and "after" pictures. At her heaviest, she was 37 pounds. She now weighs 24 pounds. She lost a THIRD of her body weight!  Now she runs like the wind!

Before (pin head with the sausage body)

 

 

After

Tip of the day: How to brush your pet effectively

Start brushing from the bottom, and work your way up. Comb thoroughly after brushing to detect any matting or tangles you may have missed with your brush.