Is Your Dog Overweight?

Dr. Lisa M. Freeman, a professor of veterinary clinical nutrition at Tufts University's Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, with Cordis, a slightly overweight golden retriever. (T&G Staff / DAN GOULD)

If you are counting calories, chances are you have spent quite a bit of time standing in grocery store aisles studying the caloric content in foods, and trying to make the best choices.  You might want to also make sure you take the time to read the labels on products you feed your pet.

Paunchy pets


GRAFTON —  It’s a familiar message: to get into shape, eat less and exercise more. Researchers at Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine say that message applies to cats and dogs, too.

Nearly 50 percent of pets are overweight or obese.

“It very much mirrors the problem of human obesity,” said Dr. Lisa M. Freeman, a professor of veterinary clinical nutrition. “Two-thirds of people are overweight or obese. It’s a disturbing trend.”

Dr. Freeman noted that overweight or obese animals have an increased likelihood of such health problems as diabetes, musculoskeletal and joint pain, respiratory tract diseases and dermatologic illness, among other conditions.

“There are studies in both dogs and cats that show obesity is associated with shorter life span,” Dr. Freeman said.

Many of the factors responsible for human obesity similarly plague the pet population, according to Dr. Freeman. Domesticated animals get less exercise than they used to; they eat more snacks — in fact, treats are the largest-growing segment of the pet food market; and pet food companies are making tastier food, so animals eat more.

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