Nutrition focus: Combating pet obesity
The latest research, products and methods for fighting the pet obesity epidemic
Obesity is an important disease with a growing incidence in the companion animal population. In the past decade, petfood companies have been formulating diets that are low-carb, high fiber, all protein, lean protein or calorie conscious, in hopes of wooing pet parents struggling to help their pets shed those extra pounds. But what does the latest research in dog and cat obesity have to say? Are diets such as the Green Bean Diet and the Catkins Diet fads like their human food predecessors, or real solutions for overweight pets? What are the benefits of helping your animal lose weight—could exercising with a pet actually improve both the owner and the animal's health? Let's investigate.
The results of a recent study in the Vet Journal (A.J. German et al.) indicate demonstrable improvement in health-related quality of life for obese dogs that successfully lose weight. Obesity has been thought to affect quality of life in companion animals, but limited objective data existed prior to this study to support this idea. This particular study used a questionnaire to determine health-related quality of life (HRQOL) before and after weight loss in 50 obese client-owned dogs representing a variety of breeds and genders.
Prior to weight loss, owners were asked to complete a validated standardized questionnaire to determine HRQOL. Thirty dogs successfully completed their weight loss program; owners then completed a follow-up questionnaire. The responses were transformed to scores corresponding to each of four factors (vitality, emotional disturbance, anxiety and pain) and scored…