ExcelVets Robina

237 Scottsdale Dr
Robina Qld 4226
Phone: 07 5562 5777
Fax: 07 5562 5522

Business Hours

8:00 - 5:30 Mon - Fri
8:30 - 11:30 Sat

After Hours Emergency

07 5559 1599


Obesity in Pets

It's not just us that need to worry about our waistline – our pets do too!

Are we being cruel or kind when we continue to give our pets those extra treats?

Obesity in Australian cats and dogs is a growing problem, in fact 40% of our pets are overweight!.

It is defined as an excessive amount of body weight (adipose tissue) in the body, and has become the most common nutritional disorder in companion animals. Unfortunately it is linked to the development of a number of serious diseases. Consequently it is crucial that we all, as pet owners are aware of these, and that we make it a priority to keep our pets at a healthy weight – if we would like them to lead long, healthy and happy lives!

Obese Dog

What are the main causes of obesity?

  • Overeating : Cats and dogs are able to regulate the amount they eat, according to their energy requirements. However, if they are offered food 'they really love' more often than required, or in greater quantities (similar to you and me), it is a little bit too hard to resist
  • Decreased exercise : there are a number of reasons that our pets do not receive as much exercise as they require. With our busy lives, we may not always get the time to walk them. Sometimes, when they get older, are sick or arthritic, they are more reluctant to exercise

Some other risk factors

  • Genetics : certain breeds are more predisposed to obesity
  • Animals at greater risk are generally female; poorly exercised; “only pets” (i.e single pet households)
  • Owner lifestyle – less active owners, may not exercise their pets quite as much
  • Dogs are more likely than cats to encounter 'weight control' issues

What are the main problems associated with obesity?

Maintaining a 'trim looking waist line' is not the main concern when trying to maintain a healthy body weight. Unfortunately it is much more serious than that! Obesity is associated with and can cause many medical problems such as:

  • Diabetes Mellitus or “Sugar Diabetes”
  • Osteoathritis is exaccerbated because of the extra weight load on the joints
  • Cardiovascular disease – such as high blood pressure, due to the excess workload on the heart and lungs
  • Hepatic Lipidosis / Fatty liver – is a fatty accumulation  in the liver of obese cats, which can cause illness and occasionally result in death.
  • Cancer – recent studies have found the incidence of cancer is dramatically higher in obese patients (especially mammary tumours and bladder tumours).
  • Urinary, reproductive and dermatological diseases
  • Anaesthetic risk is higher

How do you assess your pet's weight?

The ideal weight for dogs is assessed by running your hands firmly down the animal's sides and spine. You should be able to feel the rib cage and individual vertebrae but not see them. There should also be an indentation between the rib cage and the hips. This is a waist line!

Testing a cat's body weight is slightly different as the fat often hangs around the groin and belly area. The rib and spine test can sometimes be accurate, although it is important to also check for a “pouch” of fat hanging around the abdomen.

What can we do if our pet is overweight?

Luckily for all of us, obesity is treatable and can be managed!! The main treatment for obesity in dogs and cats is dietary management, and if possible, increasing physical activity.

The easiest and most cost efficient way of dieting your pet, is with a high quality, balanced, commercial weight control food - ExcelVets recommends Royal Canin weight contol diets. Of course, your pet's entire food intake will also need to be monitored - which most likely will mean fewer treats, and if treats are provided, ensuring they are of a low calorie or low fat variety.

If you would like an assessment for your "furbaby" please feel free to come in and speak to any of our staff for advice. We can help set up an individualised plan specifically for your pet, and work with you to help you achieve the set goals. Regular weigh-ins at the clinic are a great idea, to check you are on track, as we can chart the progress and make adjustments as needed. This is all complimentary as we like to keep all of our "family members" healthy into their senior years.

The bond between animals and humans can be so strong, that it is natural for us to want to reward them.  The overweight pet however, has a shorter life span, and a poorer quality of life. Instead of killing them with kindness by giving them a 'few too many treats' why don't you show your devotion by giving them lots of pats and cuddles, or taking them for a walk – they will love your attention, as well as the opportunity to stop and sniff at every bush! This added enrichment gives them so much pleasure.


With our feline friends, it is important to remember that when they "talk" to you, it may not always to demand food. This training starts when they are kittens when quite often their meow is simply asking for attention, a game or a cuddle, but we take it as a request for food - the end result is that they end up "training" us soooo well that we put their favourite food in their bowl. Remember to give them a cuddle or to use a laser light or a "flick" toy to encourage a game of chasey instead.