New York Times - Cat and Dog Obesity

There was an interesting article about pet obesity in the NYT on July 18, 2006: Wonder Where That Fat Cat Learned to Eat? by Jane E. Brody (free subscription to read the article for the first few weeks).

“Obesity is considered one of the most common nutritional problems in cats and dogs,” two scientists from the University of California, Davis, reported last year at the Waltham International Nutritional Sciences Symposium in Washington. “Studies in Western Europe and the United States have indicated that more than 24 percent of dogs and about 25 percent of domestic cats are obese,” the veterinarians, Jon J. Ramsey and Kevork Hagopian, noted. The findings were published this month in The Journal of Nutrition.

Not surprisingly, one study found a strong correlation between excess weight in pet owners and in their pets. Still, there are many normal-weight pet owners with dogs or cats that are dangerously overweight.

This all sounds so depressingly familiar doesn't it - so human.

The author goes on to talk about the effects of obesity such as:

  • orthopedic problems e.g. hip dysplasia and other joint disorders,
  • metabolic disorders e.g. insulin resistance and high cholesterol levels,
  • hormonal disorders e.g. thyroid problems and diabetes,
  • respiratory disorders e.g. tracheal collapse and sleep apnea,
  • urogenital problems e.g. kidney stones and incontinence,
  • cancers e.g. mammary and bladder cancer, and
  • other health problems such as exercise intolerance, heat intolerance and heat stroke, decreased immune function, hypertension, shortness of breath, and decreased lifespan.

This is an interesting list if you compare it to VPI's top 10 pet insurance claims for 2005. Diabetes in cats and osteoarthritis and hypothyroidism in dogs have just popped into VPI's claim list for the first time.

So not only age brings on these conditions, but weight too. While we can't stop our pets from aging, we certainly can do something about their weight.

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