Posts Tagged ‘pet obesity’

New Year’s Resolution to Lose Weight Applies to Our Pets As Well

Brea, Calif. (Jan. 1, 2015) The number one New Year’s resolution in America is to lose weight and data shows that pet owners should extend that resolution to their dogs and cats. New data released by Veterinary Pet Insurance Co., (VPI), the nation’s first and largest provider of pet health insurance, reveals that pet obesity is on the rise for the fourth straight year. In 2013, VPI policyholders filed for more than $52 million in claims for conditions and diseases that can be related to pet obesity, a 7.3 percent growth from 2012.

    Table scraps and excessive treats are major contributors associated with disproportionate weight gain in pets. Similar to their human counterparts, excessive body fat increases the risk of preventable health problems and shortens the life expectancy of pets. VPI, a Nationwide company, recently sorted through its database of more than 525,000 insured pets to determine the top 10 dog and cat obesity-related conditions. Below are the results:

Most Common Dog Obesity-Related Conditions Most Common Cat Obesity-Related Conditions
1. Arthritis 1. Bladder/Urinary Tract Disease
2. Bladder/Urinary Tract Disease 2. Chronic Kidney Disease
3. Low Thyroid Hormone 3. Diabetes
4. Liver Disease 4. Liver Disease
5. Torn Knee Ligaments 5. Asthma
6. Diabetes 6. Arthritis
7. Diseased Disc in the Spine 7. High Blood Pressure
8. Fatty Growth 8. Heart Failure
9. Chronic Kidney Disease 9. Gall Bladder Disorder
10. Heart Failure 10. Immobility of Spine


Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

“Pet owners need to be aware of the damage excessive weight gain can have on their pet,” said Dr. Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. “Pet lovers need to be conscious of the calories in food and treats they are giving their pets. The New Year is a perfect time for pet owners to start managing their pet’s eating habits and establish a regular exercise routine to avoid obesity. Regular wellness visits to your veterinarian are the most effective way to monitor your pet’s weight, along with being aware of signs of weight gain.”

    In 2013, VPI received more than 39,000 canine claims for arthritis, the most common joint disease aggravated by excessive weight. The average claim fee was $300 per pet. For cats, bladder or urinary tract disease was the most common condition that can be aggravated by obesity. VPI received 4,700 medical claims for this ailment – with an average claim amount of $420 per pet.

    In addition to taking pets to the veterinarian for regular wellness visits, below are simple tests you can perform to determine if your pet needs to lose weight: 

  • You should be able to lightly feel your pet’s ribs without pressing.
  • You should see a noticeable “waist” on your pet, between the back of the ribs and the hips, when viewing your pet from above. When looking from the side, your pet’s belly should go up from the bottom of the ribcage to inside the thighs.

About Veterinary Pet Insurance

    With more than 525,000 pets insured nationwide, Veterinary Pet Insurance Co./DVM Insurance Agency (VPI) is a member of the Nationwide family of companies and is the first and largest pet health insurance company in the United States. Since 1982, VPI has helped provide pet owners with peace of mind and is committed to being the trusted choice of America’s pet lovers.

    VPI Pet Insurance plans cover dogs, cats, birds and exotic pets for multiple medical problems and conditions relating to accidents, illnesses and injuries. CareGuard® coverage for routine care is available for an additional premium. Medical plans are available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Pet owners can find VPI Pet Insurance on Facebook or follow @VPI on Twitter. For more information about VPI Pet Insurance, call 800-USA-PETS (800-872-7387) or visit

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What is arthritis?
is a general term for abnormal changes in a joint. These changes occur when cartilage is worn away faster than it can be replaced. Cartilage acts as a cushion to protect the bones. When it wears away, joints become swollen and painful.

Although arthritis is not curable, the good news is that nutrition can help manage the disease, improve mobility and ease the pain. With the right nutrition and care from your veterinarian, your pet should be able to enjoy an active, healthy life for many years to come.

What causes arthritis?
…As pets get older, cartilage will begin to degenerate. Many senior dogs suffer from arthritis to some degree.

Breed…Large breeds are more prone to arthritis. These include Labradors, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds and Rottweilers.

Excess weight…Weight gain puts extra stress on the joints, which can lead to arthritis.

Accidents and damage…Joints can deteriorate as a result of stress or trauma caused by an accident.

Congenital defects…Some pets are born with conditions that make arthritis more likely in later life.

Infection…Occasionally, an infection can lead to the destruction of joint tissue and cartilage.

Does my pet have arthritis?
If your pet has arthritis, the first thing you’ll notice is that he or she finds movement difficult and is reluctant to walk, run and jump. Your pet may also yelp or flinch when touched in the affected area.

Arthritis makes it difficult to:

  • Rise from rest
  • Jump
  • Walk and run
  • Play
  • Climb stairs

If you see any of these signs in your pet, it could have arthritis, or it could have a more serious condition. Have your pet examined by the veterinarian before beginning treatment.

So, what about a diet change?
An otherwise-healthy
senior dog can safely switch to a diet containing supplemental ingredients which help reduce pain associated with arthritic changes in joints. Hill’s Prescription Diet j/d is just such a food; in fact, studies have shown its effectiveness in helping dogs improve mobility. Prescription Diet j/d can even reduce the need for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs used to counteract joint pain and inflammation.

Hill’s Prescription Diet  j/d contains elevated omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation in the joints and block the production of enzymes that destroy cartilage. Plus, added glucosamine and chondroitin provide building blocks for cartilage repair. Prescription Diet j/d also contains carnitine, which helps dogs burn fat, while maintaining lean muscle mass, since obesity is a major contributor to arthritis.

Prescription Diet j/d is available to our registered patients when recommended by Dr. Miele.

Visit for additional information. 

The Joint Health brochure is available at our office.

Information taken from  “Joint Health,” a guide produced by Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc.

This article was originally published on October 20, 2011.

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     Last night, I attended a seminar on pet obesity and arthritis, sponsored by Purina. Although much of the information was familiar, it proved to be a valuable refresher course.

     My favorite take-away lesson: Adipose (fat) tissue increases the body’s inflammatory response.

     Why is that so important? Because it means that overweight dogs have a more difficult time battling the painful inflammation associated with arthritis.

     Adipose tissue can be deposited as subcutaneous or visceral. Subcutaneous fat is deposited just under the skin. The more dangerous visceral fat surrounds internal organs like the kidneys, pancreas, and stomach. It leads to the appearance of a pendulous or “pot” belly.

     Visceral fat acts as an endocrine organ, secreting a molecule called interleukin-6 into the body. Interleukin-6 is known to cause inflammation. Researchers believe that chronic inflammation can lead to diabetes, heart disease and other disorders in people.¹ Veterinary researchers are making similar discoveries in pets.

     But internal organs are not suffering alone. Your pet’s joints are also affected by inflammatory chemicals released by visceral fat tissue. That can make battling the pain of arthritis more difficult, because the “enemy” is on the inside, constantly working against your pet’s health.

     If your pet is overweight, now is a good time to start him on a restricted-calorie, protein-based diet. Don’t wait for arthritis to settle in. Schedule your pet for a check-up and make a weight-loss plan with the doctor’s help.

     Also recommended: 
Association for Pet Obesity Prevention – your resource for weight tables, calorie guides, and a Pet Weight Translator.

Dasuquin joint health supplement – another weapon in the war on pain



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I’d like to ask you a question and I’m going to be blunt:  is your pet fat?  If so, it’s not alone.  The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) estimates that more than half the dogs and cats owned by Americans are overweight.  Unfortunately, that’s not the sort of company you want your pet to keep.  Here’s why:
Extra weight carries health risks for our pets, just like it does for us.  Obesity can contribute to

  • arthritis
  • diabetes
  • heart disease
  • high blood pressure
  • kidney disease
  • respiratory disease

Want a quick way to find out whether your pet is carrying extra weight?  Check these four areas:

  • Ribs – can you feel them?  If not, they may be covered by a layer of fat.
  • Stomach – is it sagging or bulging?  Not good!
  • Back – is it wide and flat?  Also not good!
  • Waist – can you see it?  Your pet’s waist should be defined.

Start by asking your vet for a diet recommendation for your dog or cat.  Next, add exercise to your pet’s weight loss program.  Use a conservative approach to exercise with obese dogs and cats.  As the pet loses weight, the amount of activity can be gradually increased.

     APOP has compiled a list of toys it recommends to get your pet moving.  Here are just a few:

You can find the full list of toys and technology here.

Note:  some pets may have a liver, thyroid or adrenal gland condition which causes weight retention and bloated stomach.  Certain diseases may need to be ruled out before an effective weight loss program can begin.

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