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Obesity In Animals 

An alarming proportion of dogs, cats and horses in the UK are overweight or obese. Obesity is not natural, in fact it is extremely rare to find obese animals in the wild. Being overweight is a distinct disadvantage in terms of survival! It is almost as much of a disadvantage to domesticated animals.


Overweight animals are prone to a number of health problems. The most common include:

  • Cardiac problems, due to strain on the heart and circulation
  • Poor exercise tolerance
  • Increased risk of developing chest conditions
  • Additional stress on the limbs, joints and spine
  • Increased likelihood of arthritis, rheumatism and back problems developing

Excess weight is also a contributory factor in the development of various diseases including diabetes in dogs and cats, laminitis in horses and urinary problems in cats.


As a simple test, stand over your animal and check if you can see a waistline. There should be a depression, even if only slight, behind the ribcage, rather than a bulge. Viewed from the side, the abdomen should not sag and, running your hands over the chest area, it should be possible to feel the ribs fairly easily. A better way to approach the problem is to try and weigh your animal. Bathroom scales can give you a rough idea, but it is far better to weigh your dog or cat more accurately on electronic scales. Most veterinary practices now have these. Come and see us to discuss your pet’s weight problem and any worries. We can tell you whether your pet is overweight and how much he needs to lose to attain a healthy weight as well as how to do it.

Getting your pet to lose weight should involve the whole family. Avoid giving titbits, biscuits and treats and stick rigidly to the planned weight loss regime. This will require a degree of patience and perseverance. You should avoid giving in to pleading eyes! Certainly do not allow your animal to beg at the table or take table scraps, as this is a bad habit and hard to break


Check your horse's neck for that tell-tale solid crest and also look for fat pads either side of the withers. You should be able to feel his ribs relatively easily but they should not stand out too much visually. You can also palpate behind the shoulder, along the back and the head of the tail. You should just be able to feel the tips of the back bone under supple skin, if there is a gutter then your horse is probably overweight. You should also be able to see and feel the bones of the pelvis.

Ask us to help if you are unsure.

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