By Steve Hill DVM, MS.

Board Certified Specialist in Small Animal Veterinary Internal Medicine
Veterinary Specialty Hospital of San Diego
Past-President, Comparative Gastroenterology Society

We sometimes think that an overweight pet might be “cute” or that there is no harm in being overwight, but the truth is very far from this!

Some facts about obesity in dogs and cats:

• 30-50% of adult dogs and cats are clinically obese.
• Most cases arise from simple over-eating and lack of physical activity
• Ask your family veterinarian if your pet is a proper weight and is he/she on the proper diet?

Why you would need to see a specialist:

• Leaner dogs live longer and have delayed onset of chronic illness.
• As little as 6-8% weight loss has led to significant decreases in chronic arthritis or osteoarthritis.
• A study of 700 dogs has shown that being overweight increased the risk for disc disease.
• Metabolic and endocrine conditions such as pancreatitis and diabetes.
• Heart disease, hypertension and respiratory disease.
• Reduced immunity.
• Association with cancer.

Obesity can be managed with:

• Well-designed program by health care professionals to promote appropriate weight loss
• 1% weight loss per week is a good target that is safe with caution in cats due to the potential for fatty liver syndrome or hepatic lipidosis.
• Life style changes including increased physical activity.
• Medications can also be used to promote weight loss.
• Clinical nutrition in disease is an extremely important part of disease management and multiple pet food companies have prescription lines of food that have undergone a lot of research and development.


Benjamin Franklin quote, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” may keep you from having to see a specialist to manage conditions that occur because of obesity.

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