Washington, February 24 : Pets are very similar to humans when it come to reasons and health effects of obesity as well as the remedies for the problem, say researchers.
Dr. Craig Thatcher, a noted veterinary nutritionist at Virginia Tech, has found in a study that the prevalence of obesity in dogs is between 22 and 40 per cent.
The researcher says that the causes of obesity in pets may include decreased physical activity, age, and an increased caloric intake. Even genetics can increase a pet's risk of being overweight, he adds.
Published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, his study indicates that labrador retrievers, beagles, and cocker spaniels are the breeds that are more like to carry some extra pounds.
Thatcher also points out that just like humans, dogs and cats that are overweight may be predisposed to develop diabetes mellitus. Obesity may also lead to increased dermatological conditions, decreased immune function, and multiple musculoskeletal and orthopedic problems.
According to him, obesity may reduce pets' heat tolerance and stamina.
Thatcher suggests that owners contact their veterinarian whenever they suspect their pet is overweight.
"Veterinarians are the best resource to assist clients in designing a safe and effective weight reduction program," said Thatcher.
The researcher says that the diet and exercise plan that a veterinarian may suggest should be such that the owner is willing to comply with it, and the animal can comfortably perform.
As the animal progresses through a weight loss program, its owner must monitor its progress by weighing and assessing its body condition, every two weeks initially, to ensure that the pet is successfully losing weight.
"Avoiding obesity is an important part of the overall wellness of an animal. Pets and their owners alike will enjoy a much higher quality of life when the pet maintains a healthy weight," said Thatcher.