Dog obesity: veterinary practices' and owners' opinions on cause and management

Prev Vet Med. 2010 May 1;94(3-4):310-5. doi: 10.1016/j.prevetmed.2010.01.013. Epub 2010 Feb 18.


Obesity in dogs is attributed to several factors, including genetic pre-disposition, reproductive management and dietary/exercise (human) management. A quantitative analysis of questionnaire responses from dog owners and veterinary practices in Victoria, Australia was used. A total of 219 dog owner questionnaire and 153 veterinary practice questionnaires were returned. Veterinary practices estimated the prevalence of dog obesity within their practice as 30% on average, ranging from <10 to 100%. Veterinary practices felt that 3% of cases could be attributed to dog specific factors and 97% to human specific factors such as diet, exercise and owner attitudes. Management strategies included reducing food intake, reduced treat feeding and changing diet before recommending more intensive options such as obesity clinics. Of the surveyed veterinary practices, 43% ran obesity clinics and 79% of those believed they were a valuable management tool. Of veterinary practices that did not run obesity clinics, only 46% believed them to be a valuable management tool. Dog owners preferred to try to reduce dog weight through diet manipulation, increasing exercise and elimination of treats prior to consulting the veterinary practice. There is a clear difference in expectations with veterinary practices recommending reduction in dietary intake compared to owners expecting to have to modify the diet itself, which may have a cost and hence psychological implication to the owner.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed
  • Animal Husbandry / methods*
  • Animal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / physiology
  • Animals
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Diet, Reducing / veterinary
  • Dog Diseases / epidemiology
  • Dog Diseases / psychology*
  • Dog Diseases / therapy
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Obesity / veterinary*
  • Ownership
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal / physiology
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Prevalence
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Veterinarians / psychology
  • Veterinary Medicine / methods*