Obesity is a common disorder in dogs and cats.
In 2012, 52.5% of dogs and 58.3% of cats were rated as overweight or obese by veterinarians. Obesity is when an animals weight is more than 30% above ideal – e.g., if your animal’s ideal weight is 10 lbs and she weighs at least 13 lbs (30% of 10 is 3), she is obese.
Excessive fat has physical effects on the body: painful joint disease from extra weight-bearing; upper airway constriction (obese animals with fl at faces such as Pugs and Persian cats can have greater difficulty breathing); inability to groom the hindquarters; and increased insulation causing reduced heat loss. Fat cats are prone to developing fatty liver disease (hepatic lipidosis), a serious and sometimes fatal condition.
Too much fat may also cause abnormal hormonal function in fat deposits. Fat is actually an endocrine organ that secretes adipokines (protein modulators). Adipokines regulate immune function, energy homeostasis, vascular development, lipid and glucose metabolism, and hemostasis. As fat deposits grow abnormally high, they secrete pro-inflammatory adipokines. So obesity can be considered a state of chronic inflammation.
Obese animals are at greater risk of life-threatening complications under anesthesia, and of developing diabetes. Many diabetic dogs will become blinded by cataracts within nine months of being diagnosed, although cataracts may be prevented by placing the diabetic dog on Oct-GLO Rx as soon as possible following diagnosis.
Dr. Carmen Colitz is a board certified veterinary ophthalmologist with a PhD in Comparative and Experimental Medicine.