Gentle Care Animal Hospital

Gentle Care Animal Hospital

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Obesity Is A Problem For Dogs, Too!

It's not just humans that suffer from obesity - vets say that emerging obesity problems in dogs are leading to shorter lives and reduced quality of life.

The warning comes in the wake of the launch of an over-the-counter weight loss treatment for humans.

Dr Alex German, an expert in dog nutrition and obesity problems, from Liverpool University, said: "Some estimates say that around 40% of pet dogs in the US are overweight or clinically obese*, and the anecdotal evidence from colleagues is that we are already seeing a similar problem in Europe.

"Excess weight results from lack of exercise and inappropriate diet and, if owners are working longer hours, they will have less time to exercise their dogs properly. The credit crunch may potentially have an impact, since it may make owners more reluctant to take their pet to a veterinary surgeon, thereby missing out on important advice on health and wellbeing."

As in humans, overweight dogs may experience associate medical problems including arthritis, respiratory problems, diabetes and incontinence. Some pre-existing conditions, such as osteoarthritis, may be exacerbated, and the dog's quality of life reduced because of its impaired ability to play and take exercise.

Dr German said: "Once a dog becomes obese, or even overweight, it really is best to take veterinary advice about how to solve the problem. Sudden implementation of a rigorous exercise routine, without consideration of co-existing health problems, may exacerbate the problem.

"Weight loss usually involves a combination of dietary energy restriction, increasing activity levels and, in some cases, prescription medicines," said Dr German

"Although many of these impose a potential financial cost and in a recession, owners may be less willing to carry the financial cost."

In some breeds, and in cross breed dogs, it can be difficult for owners to establish the ideal weight, and information available on the internet may not always be accurate or appropriate.

He stressed that dogs can become overweight for all sorts of reasons - including compulsive eating and theft of food, begging from people other than the owner, and pre-existing medical conditions which limit their exercise. "Food is associated with love, which means you are dealing with both diet and psychology," he said.

*According to The American Veterinary Association, a dog which is 5-20% over its ideal weight is 'overweight', and one which is 20% or more over its ideal weight is 'obese'.

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Pfizer Animal Health, a business of Pfizer Inc, is a world leader in animal health, committed to providing high-quality, innovative health products, including pharmaceuticals and biologicals for livestock and companion animals. Pfizer Inc, a research-based pharmaceutical company with global operations, discovers, develops, manufactures and markets leading prescription medicines for humans and animals.

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