Livestock Cropping & Pasture General Farm

Obesity in Pets

Looking at the pet obesity epidemic in Australian Dogs

The obesity epidemic that is currently sweeping America is also affecting our pets here in Australia.

Increasingly we are faced with overweight cats and dogs, to the point that many people are coming to regard fat as normal. There are reports everyday in Vet practices about dogs and other pets being brought in because of concerns about the animals being underweight when in reality, they are just right.

Labrador case studies

Vets are becoming so accustomed to seeing fat Labradors in particular that make a slim dog look “deformed” with a head far too big for its body.

Like us, our pets are a product of food intake and exercise. And also like us, the problem is often not what is eaten at mealtime, but the snacks between. Combined with our increasingly busy lifestyle of watching TV and playing on the computer, the poor old family pet has become a couch-potato by default.

A large pet food company has recently released the results of a 15 year study where they followed 48 Labradors from puppyhood to death. Half of the dogs were fed less and maintained in a slim body condition, while the other half were allowed to be normal Labradors.

The slim dogs lived on average about 2 years longer and were 2-3 years older than their fatter brothers before they started to develop conditions such as arthritis and raised cholesterol. Food for thought!!

So what defines slim?

It is impossible to describe an ideal weight for dogs in general, so we advise you to “condition-score” your dog. An ideal condition score is 4-5.

You should be able to feel your dogs ribs – but not see them sticking out! When looking from above your dog should have a waistline, and from the side its abdomen should tuck behind the ribcage and slope up to the flank.

The same applies to your cat and, in reality, to yourself as well. Your local vets are happy to help you to maintain your pet at an ideal weight and offer free weight checks.

Their staff can give you advice on feeding, and clever little diet tricks like using smaller bowls. Many even have ready-made diet food – sort of Jenny Craig for pets. Don’t be afraid to ask for help with advice and toys and games to help to increase your pet’s activity and exercise levels. It is almost as difficult to get weight off your pet as it is to lose weight yourself.

It takes a lot of self control and determination not to give in to those soft brown eyes, but the results are worth the effort when you see your happy sleek friend getting out there and enjoying life.


Check out some of our Animal Health products for your pets to help maintain a healthy animal!