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PETS Obesity in Pets


by Lauren Jakubowski, DVM www.vcahospitals.com/san-martin


O


ver two-thirds of all Americans and Canadians are overweight and over one-third (33%) of all


adults are obese. Unfortunately, this same number now applies to our pets. Obesity can lead to several diseases, both in pets and people. Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and


arthritis are the most common weight- related disorders in dogs. Hypothyroidism may predispose dogs to obesity. Any overweight dog should be tested for hypothyroidism and other endocrine-related problems before beginning a weight loss program. Dr. Lauren Jakubowski at VCA San Martin Animal Hospital says that since there are so many different breeds and body shapes in dogs, most veterinarians determine the ideal weight by using a combination of weight charts and body scoring. Obesity in cats is a known risk factor


for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis, certain forms of cancer and lower urinary tract disease. It is also frequently associated with hepatic lipidosis. This is a severe form of liver disease and can cause acute liver fail- ure. It typically occurs in cats that are obese and have undergone a brief period of “stress” which causes anorexia. The “stress” may be as simple as a change of house or a change in diet. When it first became recog- nized, hepatic lipido- sis was an almost universally fatal dis- ease in cats. Fortunately, with improved, aggressive and prolonged thera-


py, 70% to 80% of affected cats can now be successfully treated. However, because of the risk of this potentially fatal disease, weight loss programs for obese cats need to be moni- tored cautiously and performed under the supervision of a vet- erinarian. Diet and weight reduction are key things you can control to help your pet live as long and healthy a life as pos- sible. As with both people and pets, weight that is lost slowly is more likely to stay lost! Most pets can lose weight if you adhere to


some basic recom-


mendations. Weight loss ~ continued on page 8


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