Why Lose Weight? Fluffy Looks Beautiful!

July 2019

by Megan Schneider, DVM

Why Lose Weight? Fluffy Looks Beautiful!

It’s summertime! The temperatures are sitting above 100 (most of the time), the air conditioners are humming, and the sparkling swimming pools never looked so inviting. It’s also the season for advertisers happily to remind everyone that it’s bathing suit season! While dogs and cats don’t have to worry about fitting into last year’s swimsuit, it is important to remember that keeping them fit goes way beyond any fashion trends.

The extra pounds on an overweight pet do more than just increase the size of their collar. Obesity is now considered a chronic inflammatory condition.4 That means that all that extra fat is directly causing inflammation and disease. The extra, unnecessary, fat cells that develop as the animal gains weight secrete hormones and cellular signals that lead to changes in how the body processes nutrients and controls the metabolism. Those hormones can interfere with the body’s ability to react to, and metabolize, blood sugar – sometimes leading to of diabetes in kitties – and those cellular signals can increase the inflammation associated with arthritis – making joint damage even worse. 3,4

On top of all the detrimental hormones directly secreted by the fatty tissues, those superfluous pounds have another set of side-effects. That extra weight itself is hard and painful on arthritic joints.4 Making mobility even more difficult in affected pets. It puts added stress on their hearts and lungs. Decreasing their ability to run, jump, chase, play and just generally enjoy life as much as they would like to.2

As a neat summary of all these secondary effects from carrying around excess pounds, the Purina Lifetime Study demonstrated that limiting the calorie intake and maintaining an ideal body condition score can significant amount of high-quality life to a dog’s lifespan.1 If a pill existed to do that, it would be so popular the pharmacies wouldn’t be able to keep it on the shelves. Weight loss can be a challenge, especially with pets who know just how to work those heartstrings, but achieving and maintaining that lean body condition can be the more important thing to keep them comfortable and happy for a long time to come.

Tune in next time to learn about what the “ideal” body condition is, and pick-up some tips on how to get there!



  1. Kealy RD, Lawler DF, Ballam JM, Mantz SL, Biery DN, Greeley EH, Lust G, Segre M, Smith GK, Stowe HD. (2002) Effects of diet restriction on life span and age-related changes in dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 220(9), 1315-20. Retrieved June 23, 2019
  2. Manens J, Ricci R, Damioseaux C, Gault S, Conteiro B, Diez M, Clercx C. (2014) Effects of body weight loss on cardiopulmonary function assessed by 6-minute walk test and arterial blood gas analysis in obese dogs. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine 28(2), 371-8. Retrieved June 23, 2019
  3. Nelson Richard W, Reusch Claudia E.(2014) ANIMAL MODELS OF DISEASE: Classification and etiology of diabetes in dogs and cats. Journal of Endocrinology, 222(3), T1-9. Retrieved Jun 23, 2019
  4. Sanderson, S. L. (2012). The epidemic of canine obesity and its role in osteoarthritis. Israel Journal of Veterinary Medicine, 67(4), 195-202. Retrieved June 23, 2019.
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