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Ask a Vet: Extra weight damages pets’ organs

POSTED: March 23, 2014 1:30 a.m.

In my last two articles, you’ve read about what can cause your pet to become overweight. This article is a sample of the negative effects extra weight can have on your pet.

First, the simple explanation: Heavy pets live shorter lives and their quality of life is reduced.

Overweight pets are more likely to develop diabetes, urinary tract disease, intervertebral disk disease, cancer and osteoarthritis. Plus, the extra wear and tear associated with excess fat can result in premature aging of the supportive organs. Carrying around extra weight can damage the kidneys, liver, lungs and heart.

Most of my clients tell me they are aware of the effects, but they really seem to only focus on arthritis. This is logical as the weight placed on the knees, elbows and other joints is an obvious issue in overweight pets. But another effect may be even more important.

When we use drugs to block inflammation, we are blocking certain enzymatic steps that convert one compound into another.

I’ll skip most of the boring names, but what we’re trying to do is to stop the conversion of arachidonic acid (a fatty acid) into prostaglandin (a chemical that promotes inflammation). Fatty acids are derived by enzymes cutting up triglycerides, which are stored versions of fat.

The take home message is, more fat, more fatty acids, more prostaglandin and more inflammation. So not just physical force on joints is at work, but the extra fat is literally a chemical arsenal waiting to promote pain.

Those same inflammatory chemicals can promote organ aging and cancer development.

I’ve seen the TV shows about people who lose 400 pounds and report their knees feel better. Well, yeah. But they also say their necks feel better and they have fewer headaches. Surely they weren’t doing headstands at 800 pounds.

All in all, your dog or cat will be much healthier and happier at a more reasonable weight.

Next week, I’ll finish up on overweight pets and get off my soap box.

Matthew Sisk is a practicing veterinarian from Habersham County. Have questions about your pet? He can be reached at mattsisk2003@yahoo.com.


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