Large-Scale Study Finds Cat Obesity is on the Rise

Researchers at Canada’s Ontario Veterinary College analyzed the electronic veterinary health data of over 19 million cats and found that not only do cats tend to put on weight as they age, but they also have been getting fatter over the past few decades.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, found that a cat’s weight will gradually increase until it is around 8 years of age.  Male cats tend to be heavier than females, and spayed/neutered cats tend to be heavier than unaltered cats.

Purebred cats reach their peak weight between 6 and 10 years of age, while non-purebred domestic cats peak at 8 years.

The mean weight of cats has increased overall from 1995 to 2005.  However, weight has held steady between 2005 and 2015.

Researchers note that many cats in the study had only one weight on file, suggesting that regular vet visits where weight is taken are uncommon for many pet cats.  They say that cats can be overlooked when it comes to health studies because they go to the vet less frequently than dogs.

In an article on the study, the researchers urge owners to monitor their cat’s weight regularly, including at-home weigh-in sessions.  They note that unusual weight loss or gain can be a sign of a serious underlying health problem.

Check out this video on the study here!

 

The 8 Most Common Canine Health Problems

A large-scale study of dogs in the UK has identified the most common canine health disorders seen by veterinarians.

The electronic health data of over 450,000 dogs under veterinary care in the UK was analyzed by researchers conducting this study.

Let’s take a look at some key findings.  Be sure to check out the full report, published in BMC Veterinary Research HERE.

The 8 most common canine health problems are:

  • Anal sac disorder
  • Conjunctivitis (eye infection)
  • Dental disease
  • Dermatitis (skin problems)
  • Overweight or obese
  • Lipoma (fatty tissue growth)
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Otitis externa (ear infection)

The researchers note that some of these health conditions are more prevalent than others, while some tend to be more severe or longer lasting than others.

Most prevalent health issues:

  • Dental disease
  • Overweight or obese
  • Anal sac disorder

Most severe health problems:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Otitis externa
  • Dermatitis

Health issues with longest duration:

  • Dental disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Overweight or obese

Which canine health disorders were found to have the greatest overall negative impact on a dog’s well-being?

  • Dental disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Overweight or obese

The good news is that many of the most common canine health problems are preventable!  Regular dental care, both at home and at the vet’s office, is essential to your dog’s dental health.

Keeping your dog at a healthy weight through proper diet and exercise can prevent obesity and other associated health problems.  A healthy body weight can also help ease the discomfort of arthritis.

Be sure to talk to your vet about ways you can work together to maintain your dog’s health and prevent these common health problems.

 

New Pet Obesity Statistics for U.S. Dogs and Cats

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention has released the results of its 2018 Pet Obesity Survey.  You can click HERE to read the full report.  Here are a few interesting findings about our pets:

  • 59.5% of cats and 55.8% of dogs are classified as either overweight or obese.  This translates to 56 million cats and 50 million dogs.
  • 25.7% of cats and 36.9% of dogs were rated as overweight.
  • 33.8% of cats and 18.9% of dogs were rated as obese.

  • 68% of pet owners report that they have tried to help their pets lose weight.
  • Calorie reduction/smaller portions and increased exercise were reported to be the most effective pet weight loss methods.
  • 53% of pet owners reported that their veterinarians discussed their pets’ weight with them, however 40% said that their vets did not provide them with dietary advice.

Could your dog or cat lose a few of those extra pounds?  APOP has created some helpful pet weight loss tools for owners.  You can find information on ideal weight ranges, pet caloric needs, and weight reduction advice for both dogs and cats.

 

 

Dogs and Humans Share Similar Gut Microbiomes

The human microbiome (the many microorganisms that live in and on our body) is a popular topic in science news these days.  Researchers are especially interested in how the microbes that live in our intestines impact our health and well-being.

Our pets have microbiomes too, and a recent study of the canine gut microbiome has found that humans and dogs share many similarities.  Dogs are more like humans in the gut microbiome than either pigs or mice.

Why are we so similar?  The study authors suspect that it has a lot to do with similarities in our diets.

The researchers randomly assigned two different diets to a group of dogs.  One was high protein/low carbohydrate and the other was a lower protein/higher carb diet.

The genes of the dogs’ gut microbes were sequenced using poop samples.  They were then compared to the genes of the gut microbes of humans and other animals.

The researchers found that we share more similarities with dogs than with pigs or mice.  They also found that dogs on the high protein/low carb diet experienced more changes in the gut microbiome than dogs on the higher carb diet.  This was especially true for overweight dogs.

Humans show similar gut microbiome changes when our diets are altered as well.  The researchers note that both dogs and humans with healthy body weights have more stable gut microbiomes, while obesity can lead to less stable gut microbiomes and an increased sensitivity to dietary changes.

 

 

New Study Examines the Health of Labrador Retrievers

The Labrador Retriever has been the most popular dog breed in the United States for many years.  We love this kind, gentle, and loving dog…but like any purebred dog, the Lab does have some inherited health issues that all owners should know about.

A recent study of Labs in the UK took a look at the most common health and well-being issues of this popular dog.  What are the key findings?

61.6% of all Labs in the study had at least one known health disorder.  Here are the most common:

  • Otitis externa (ear canal inflammation and infection)
  • Obesity (particularly among neutered males)
  • Degenerative joint disease (hip and elbow dysplasia)

Interestingly, some of the conditions were found to be more closely associated with coat color than others.  For example, chocolate colored Labs were more likely to have both otitis externa and a skin condition called pyotraumatic dermatitis (hot spots).

The average lifespan of all Labs is around 12 years, but chocolate Labs had shorter lifespans.  The two most common causes of death in Labs are musculoskeletal disorders and cancer.

The researchers suspect that the link between chocolate color and illness/mortality might be due to an increased number of genetic diseases contained in a more limited gene pool.

If you’re interested in a Labrador Retriever as your next pet, be sure to work only with a reputable breeder (or rescue organization) who health tests their dogs for inherited health problems.

For more information on health testing, check out the website of the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals.