Obesity in Pets


Obesity in pets is common in many countries. Rates of overweight and obesity in dogs in the United States ranges from 23% to 41% with about 5.1% obese. Rates of obesity in cats was slightly higher at 6.4%. The risk of obesity in dogs but not cats is related to whether or not their owners are obese. Obese dogs and cats have a higher incidence of arthritis and heart disease.

In fact, fatness to the point of health impairment is enough of a concern that Pfizer developed and got Food and Drug Administration-approval for a drug (Slentrol) to treat canine and feline obesity. Pet owners have been prosecuted for cruelty to animals due to their dangerously obese dogs. Two British brothers were cited in 2006 for cruelty and neglect of their chocolate labrador retriever, ‘who was allegedly made so obese by his owners that he ‘looked like a seal’ and could barely waddle a few steps.’

The reasons for obesity of cats and dogs in wealthier countries is not simply a matter of overfeeding. Lifestyle influences also play roles. In modern times, pets are often, for their own safety, not allowed to free roam as they did in the past. Modern day pet foods are a higher quality food, and dogs, as natural scavengers, are prone to gorging themselves whenever the opportunity arises, with the limit being stomach capacity rather than hunger level. In evolutionary past, this was the only way to survive as they wouldn’t know where their next meal would be coming from.

More recently, pet and working dogs were fed on scraps of whatever was left over. Modern food, developed specifically for dogs, are nutritious. However, owners are prone to overfeeding dogs, as they see the bowl of food and think that it looks like not enough. The taste of dog food encourages dogs to want to feed more. Modern lifestyles often mean that owners are not able to walk their dog for an hour or more a day, thus reduced exercise, coupled with richer foods and owners who believe that they are doing the right thing by overfeeding, are the main cause of obesity illness in pets today.

One Comment to “Obesity in Pets”

  1. Very true.. I saw some of my neighbours over feeding their pets like hell. They are pets.. they don’t realize if they are full or they need to eat.. Keeping them on continuous feeding can be harmful for them. I had the same experience. I had a small golden fish and before I realized that I overfilled the poor thing with food, she died. I feel so sorry.

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