The Risks For Overweight Pets

The rate of obesity in dogs and cats in Australia is alarmingly high. According to research by the RSPCA, veterinarians reported that 33.5% of dogs are overweight, and of that, 8% are obese. Overweight pets usually become this way due to overfeeding and under-exercising. Like us, pets need to eat right and undertake activity to keep fit and healthy.

Which pets are most at risk?

In some cases, breed and age can play a part in a pet’s weight issue. Older pets may become less active due to conditions like arthritis. However, it’s up to us to ensure our pets are being fed correct food portions, and that they exercise regularly.

Health risks for overweight pets

Shorter lifespan

A study by the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition discovered that overweight dogs can expect to live ten months shorter than their ideal-weight counterparts. That’s a lot of time in dog years. Other research revealed that leaner dogs have a significant reduction in the risk of chronic diseases like osteoarthritis compared to overweight dogs.

Diabetes mellitus

As in humans, obesity increases insulin resistance and impaired glucose metabolism in cats and dogs. Insulin is needed to break down things like sugars. When the body is unable to perform this function, diabetes develops, posing serious risk to your pet’s health. Ongoing treatment is needed for the management of this condition.
Overweight cats have twice the risk of developing diabetes than lean cats, while obese cats have almost four times the risk of developing diabetes. Additionally, with every 1kg of weight gain above ideal in cats, there is a 30% reduction in insulin sensitivity. The second problem with insulin resistance is the inability of the glucose to enter the parts of the brain that tell us when we’re full. Therefore, your pet wants to keep eating, contributing to the problem of obesity.

Musculoskeletal diseases

Excess weight can contribute to musculoskeletal diseases, like ruptured ligaments and the onset of osteoarthritis.
Ligament rupture can be traumatic, but it is also attributed to repetitive load bearing. In overweight pets, the load that the joint and ligaments sustain is much higher, increasing the risk of them to rupture.
Osteoarthritis occurs earlier in obese dogs. This is attributed to chronic inflammation caused by obesity. These inflammation targets joints, leading to the onset of the disease.


Multiple studies reveal high blood pressure can develop in dogs and cats that are overweight and obese. There is a direct link between weight gain and increased blood pressure. High blood pressure leads to conditions of the eyes, heart problems, and stroke.
There are simple ways to keep your pet’s weight and health in check. Follow the links to see the ideal weight for cats and dogs.
If you’re concerned about your pet’s weight, contact your local Greencross Vets to make an appointment for a weight assessment.
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