Obesity is the condition that occurs when animals carry excess unnecessary body weight in the form of fat. Fat stores are increased when energy (calories) consumed, exceeds expended energy. This can be caused by a sedentary lifestyle, hormonal changes as a result of neutering, changes in energy requirements as a pet ages, inappropriate nutrition and the feeding of excess treats! The good news is that obesity is a condition we can treat, as long as the pet’s nutritional needs are assessed by a veterinarian and a proper weight loss plan is put into place and carefully followed. Other than excess food intake, there are some medical conditions that will cause your pet to gain weight without being overfed. They include hypothyroidism, hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s disease), and other glandular problems. However, these are less common causes of obesity and by far the greatest contributor to weight gain is overfeeding.

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When is a dog considered to be overweight?

On a scale from 1-9 (9 being extremely obese and 1 being emaciated), a pet should be a 4-5/9. At this body condition, the ribs are easily palpable, with minimal fat covering. From an above view of your pet, you should see their waist and from the side, the abdomen should tuck up.

Do some breeds prone to obesity?

Yes. The Cocker Spaniel, Dachshund, Golden Retriever, Beagle and Basset Hound all have a genetic predisposition to become obese. These animals often require fewer calories than others to maintain a healthy body weight. If your pet is one who does not consume a lot of food and yet your veterinarian is telling you they need to lose weight, this just means that they have a very efficient metabolism and simply requires less food per day to maintain a healthy body weight.

Why should you have weight loss & management consultation at the clinic?

Firstly, it is important to determine whether your pet is overweight from overfeeding, or from a medical condition that needs treating. If the obesity is caused by overfeeding, your pet’s health care team will determine the appropriate amount of calories they should be getting per day and the rate at which the weight should be lost. It is unsafe to lose weight too quickly, and so it is important to follow your veterinarian’s weight loss plan to achieve a healthy body weight efficiently and safely.

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