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The health risks of pet obesity 

Obesity can be defined as an excess of body fat that is enough to impair health, welfare and quality of life.

It can affect all types of pet and the main cause is from eating too much or not exercising enough, although some diseases can cause obesity.

Obesity in people is generally 20-25 per cent above ideal bodyweight. This is likely to be similar in pets; however, it will vary.

If a pet is overweight, it can cause a lot of unnecessary suffering and can be extremely disabling.

Are certain pets more likely to be obese?

Several factors make obesity more likely in pets. For dogs, for example, certain breeds have a higher risk and this also increases with age. Neutered dogs are more at risk.

Apart from older dogs, obesity is reported to be more common in females.

It’s also been shown that obese owners may be more likely to have obese dogs, perhaps because they are less likely to exercise their dog or less able to recognise obesity.

Similar factors may also be associated with other animals.

The health risks of obesity

Obesity can cause serious health and welfare problems and make existing problems worse. This can reduce the length and quality of a pet’s life.

Some serious medical conditions associated with obesity are diabetes, heart disease, respiratory distress, high blood pressure and cancers.

Obesity is also likely to affect a pet’s ability to perform natural behaviours (e.g. exercise normally).


Preventing obesity

For dogs and cats there are a few simple checks you can do:

You should be able to see and feel the outline of your pet’s ribs without excess fat covering.

You should be able to see and feel your pet’s waist and it should be clearly visible when viewed from above.

Your pet’s belly should be tucked up when viewed from the side.

If your pet does not pass these checks, or if you are in any doubt, consult your vet.

They will be able to provide a health check and if necessary recommend a weight reduction programme.