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Companion animals
Obesity is a complex issue

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OBESITY should be regarded as a chronic, incurable disease. Once you understand that, and start thinking in terms of remission rather than cure, it changes your approach to management.

So said Alex German, of the University of Liverpool, during a symposium on obesity, organised by Hill's Pet Nutrition, held in Barcelona in May.

Arguing that ‘one size doesn't fit all’ when it comes to managing obesity in dogs and cats, Dr German noted that quality of life considerations were important and that weight loss protocols should always be tailored to the individual patient. Generally, the focus of conventional weight loss programmes was to get animals down to their target weight; however, while this was appropriate for younger animals, it might not be appropriate for older animals, where reaching the target weight might be more difficult and potentially stressful for the animal and its owner, but where losing some weight was better than losing none at all. Dr German drew attention to a study which used a standardised questionnaire to assess the quality of life of dogs both before and after a weight loss programme. Overall, quality of life scores were low when dogs were obese and improved in dogs which successfully lost weight; in particular, vitality scores increased, while emotional disturbance and pain scores decreased. The study also found that the more body fat that dogs lost, the greater the improvement in their vitality (German and others 2012).

FIG 1:

Alex German: ‘one size doesn't fit all’ when it comes to managing obesity in dogs and cats

FIG 2:

Angela Witzel: ‘Fat is like a stray dog. If you feed it, it will keep hanging around’

FIG 3:

Speakers at the symposium on managing obesity: (from left) Kevin Hahn, Alex German, Kelly Swanson, Debra Horwitz, Angela Witzel, Mireille Serlie, Marjorie Chandler

The key …

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