Dementia in Overweight Pets?

Fact is pets are becoming overweight and struggle with weight related diseases,  such as diabetes, arthritis, cardiovascular conditions, asthma, neoplasia, cancer, allergies etc.

Now, veterinary researchers suggest that obesity in pets caused by our own life style, may be the cause of dementia in dogs and cats.

Obese dog, Obese canine from New Orleans

Obese canine from New Orleans—Mr TGT (

Dogs deemed to be 15% or more above their ideal body weight are defined as clinically obese. New research indicates that among other things there is now a link between obesity and mental decline in pets. This means that chubby pets are more subject to dementia and cognitive decline that those pets maintained at an ideal body weight. […]

Keeping your pet’s body weight within the target range for his size increases his or her odds for enjoying longer, healthier, happier years. According to this published study which was supported by the National Institute of Health (NIH) it also reduces the risk of dementia and cognitive decline by 70%.



Why are Pets Becoming MOre and More Obese?

On the one hand it is misunderstood tender loving care for pets, as many people tend to feed not only over-sized portions, but also give calorie rich snacks and treats during the day, feed often table scraps and extra portions to their furry companion.

Lack of exercise and an altered metabolism and hormone level after neutering will very often end up soon in a permanent weight gain.


How Can Pet Obesity Be Best Prevented?

Pet obesity can be prevented by reducing the caloric energy intake and increasing the calories burnt per day.

This sounds so easy, but, as you certainly know yourself if you battle with losing weight, it is easier said then done.

A good quality food, best is a natural diet which does fill up and delivers everything needed, so “cravings” can be managed.

Enough exercise during the day. As a minimum your dog should get walked daily twice for 20 minutes. This is dependent on your dog’s individual needs, which are defined through the breed, age and health condition.

Cats that are living in- and outdoors get usually plenty of exercise, but you need to make sure she does not eat “out” somewhere in the neighborhood.

Indoor cats will need stimulation to move around and exercise. There are plenty of cat trees, intelli-toys and similar objects available that can help to motivate them and keep them excited for a while. You can also get a harness and a leash for her and walk her outside!

What Can You Do If Your Dog or Cat Is Already Overweight?

First is to talk to your veterinarian. It is really important to exclude underlying medical problems that need medication.  Also, your vet can give advice about managing the weight loss phases and prescribe even a specific diet for your pet.

Regularly consult your veterinary nurse or veterinary technician at your vet practice. They usually do weight clinics, regular weigh ins and can give you very practical advice.

Start to ramp up the daily exercise, it is your quality time you spend with your pet. Play with your dog or cat regularly, keep dog walks interesting by using a toy (frisbee, ball etc.) or join a local dog agility group.

Stop feeding energy-rich treats and snacks, keep this to a minimum. Have you tried dried green tripe as a snack yet? For dogs it is a fantastic and healthy snack, but be warned, it does have a distinct smell 🙂

To bulk up your dog’s diet you can also mix finely chopped or blended veggies, such as leafy greens, broccoli, carrot, apple and more. The veggies can make up to 10% of your dog’s daily ration. Cats are carnivores, so veggies are not required in their diet.


18 Responses to Dementia in Overweight Pets?

  1. adam
    September 18, 2014 at 5:56 pm #

    Thanks Dr Allen for sharing a nice information.
    This is a great article.

  2. Julie November 7, 2013 at 8:32 am #

    Obesity can really cause so many problems in dogs, that’s why its very important for pet owners to watch their diet and make sure that they are eating right. It’s so sad to see dogs suffering from obesity.

  3. David October 14, 2013 at 2:28 pm #

    This is a pet subject of mine. I have a couple of Frenchies and I have to be careful with diet. They are prone to breathing difficulties anyway and I know if this breed go overweight it compounds the problem. And therein lies the issue. If I understand it is dangerous for both me and my pet to be grossly overweight why do pet owners think it’s O.K to over indulge their pets? I fail to understand why people do this!

  4. Faith October 11, 2013 at 3:46 am #

    It’s problematic when the dog has other health problems – for example, one of my dogs has heart murmur and thus cannot do too much vigorous exercise. I’ve had to be very careful to balance her nutrition and exercise to keep her healthy. Nevertheless, this was a useful read.

  5. Donald Quixote October 7, 2013 at 7:18 pm #

    One of the biggest reasons that pets are becoming obese more often that I have seen personally is that people are too busy and don’t play with their pets. They don’ take them for walks. As I grew more busy at work it seemed harder to take my dog out.

  6. Dave Walker August 15, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

    MY JRT had put on quite the belly recently and I hadn’t really noticed it until I picked her up and she weight a lot more than usual.

    The first thing was to increase her walks to twice daily again which had a big impact, but I’ve also noticed that she seems almost addicted to these canine dental chews I get for her.

    Somebody mentioned that a lot of these chews are actually loaded down with sugar which is why dogs like them so much. So I reduced her intake of these chews too and in just over a week she’s gotten rid of that bloated look on her stomach.

    Great article btw – I had no idea a dog being overweight could cause dementia of all things!

  7. Mark Rodrigue July 9, 2013 at 7:40 pm #

    Does this one hold truths the same to humans? They are all cuties…
    Mark Rodrigue recently posted…FDA, EMA Get Rap over BMJ Report on Byetta, Pancreatic ComplicationsMy Profile

  8. Flora April 2, 2013 at 3:03 pm #

    It is so easy to over love your pet with too much food and treats. I am certainly guilty of that. Thank you for pointing out how dangerous it is to our pets overfeeding is.
    Flora recently posted…Honey & Kwanza – Dog & Lion Best FriendsMy Profile

  9. Susan Jones April 1, 2013 at 9:37 am #

    I enjoyed this article and just wanted to say to take better health care of pets mentioned information is quite educative. I’m about to adopt a pet dog next month and to take care of my pet nicely I’m feeling glad to learn such effective lessons. Keep educating through blogging. 🙂
    Susan Jones recently posted…Green LivingMy Profile

  10. Dan March 16, 2013 at 8:13 pm #

    My parents dog is very obese. Every evening they feed it with leftovers from the dinner. I keep telling them that they need to stop or they will kill eventually the dog, but they say its picky.

    Can a dog even be picky?
    Dan recently posted…Olivers hundefoder er toppen!My Profile

  11. logixpro March 15, 2013 at 9:31 am #

    Very good post..and I am in serious problem these days, My Dog is having some extra weight since last few days compare to last month. I can see a considerable change in its body. Also he is not active last few days as well…he is 8 years old now. German shepherd. Can you please help me..I can provide you more details if you need.
    Thank you.

    • Dr Ellen March 15, 2013 at 5:29 pm #

      I think the best is to go to a weight clinic provided by your veterinary practice. They will assess your dog’s weight and may have the data from previous weigh-ins, so they can compare. If you see an expansion of your dog’s abdomen, it could also be something different, such as for example excess fluid in the abdominal cavity. This needs to be investigated by your veterinarian. Hope this helps,

      Dr Ellen

  12. Lee February 26, 2013 at 9:45 am #

    We all love animals just makes me cringe to see how many don’t know how to look after them when they have them. Don’t know if this is a society thing as people are getting more obese and not looking after their own weight so their pets are going the same way?????

    Good diet and exercise are not that hard to achieve

    Thanks lee

    • Dr Ellen March 15, 2013 at 5:47 pm #

      Hi Lee!
      Good points you bring up here. I think it is partly a convenience problem and partly an emotional thing. Many people find young pets adorable, but discover soon that by keeping a dog or a cat that this will have an impact on their own lifestyle: especially a dog requires quality time on a regular basis and not only once daily and a busy lifestyle may make it very difficult to walk a dog regularly and for more than just 10 -15 minutes.
      On the other hand are pets fully integrated family members and always present also when their owners have their meals. And not everyone can resist a dog’s “sad” eyes…. People project human emotions into their pet which can lead easily to many behavioural problems, such as dominance, overeating through being overfed and more. A sensible pet specific diet and lots of opportunities to exercise are indeed the “cure” of this and should be clear to every pet owner.

      Thanks for your opinion,

      Dr Ellen

  13. jason February 10, 2013 at 10:50 pm #

    Is it possible that some breeds of cats or dogs are just larger or “big boned” ? My cat weighs about 20 lbs or so but I wouldn’t consider him fat. He has always been big since I adopted him.
    jason recently posted…Why Declawing Cats is InhumaneMy Profile

  14. Sarah February 9, 2013 at 6:40 am #

    It’s so sad to see fat pets. Owners need to learn to put restrictions on how much they feed their animals and make sure they get exercise.

    So many people say they love their pet but realistically they’re killing them 🙁
    Sarah recently posted…Discount Dog Poop BagsMy Profile

  15. allenclayton December 20, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

    Veterinarians say just like people, obese pets are more likely to have heart problems, diabetes and other complications and obese pets tend to die two years sooner than healthy animals. So be sure to set some fitness goals for your furry friend.

    Wettington vet

  16. Jan October 22, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

    Thanks for the tips on how to get indoor cats motivated. My cat loves her cat tree, but sleeps most of the time on it. Will try the harness and lead.
    Thanks for sharing,
    Jan recently posted…Travelling Blogger – Which Blogging Platforms Are Best?My Profile

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