New drugs to treat obesity are now available. Different studies, but none in France, reported 18 to 44% overweight dogs and 6% to 52% overweight cats, with suggested risk factors differing between species. Obesity is a disease, and its treatment is now known as beneficial to the health status and life expectancy of pets.
The purpose of our studies was to assess prevalence and risk factors of overweight in dogs and cats from an urban healthy population in France, to investigate the owner's perception of their animal, using different tools, and to compare recommendations provided on the petfood labels to treat overweight to current recommendations.
3. Key Messages
Out of 616 dogs and 385 cats studied over a 3 month period, 38.8 % of dogs and 26.8% of cats were overweight, 56.5% and 71.2% optimal, and 4.7% and 2.1% underweight.
Risk factors identified for obesity were: for Cats: neutering, middle age, 41-60 yr old owners, and underestimation of cat's body condition by owners; for Dogs: age, gender and sexual status, and Retriever breed. These results confirm previous findings.
Owners underestimated the body condition of their overweight pet, more with an oral scale than with visual comparison with pictures.
This finding shall be used in practice to make owners more objective about their pets.
The comparison of the energy intake recommended from different petfood labels recommendations with the in-use methods to achieve weight loss in dogs and cats showed that most pet foods were in the range. But a few exceeded even the maintenance requirement, and very few proposed a detailed panel of the options considering the variability of pets.
Depending on the breed, gender and activity of the overweight pet, the recommendations have to be individually adjusted by the practitioner, to ensure the success if the weight loss program.
Obesity in France does not differ from other countries (no French paradox for pets!).
New drugs to treat dogs' obesity shall be considered in combination with appropriate diet and advice. The treatment requires to use adapted methods to educate owners about the overweight of their pet. A minimal knowledge in clinical nutrition is finally required to enable the success of practitioners in the treatment of obesity in dogs and cats.