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Scope of Action:


Overweight and obesity in companion animals, canines and felines, are quite common to find in the daily clinic, whether due to a behavioral disorder (of the pet or its owner), an endocrinological pathology or a nutritional imbalance. We often determine overweight and obesity in our patients during the clinical consultation, although they are attracted by another problem, since excess weight contributes to the development of musculoskeletal diseases and produces too much tension in the joints, tendons and ligaments, which which aggravates existing health problems. And, although many dog owners see their pet being overweight as an aesthetic problem, they do not realize the serious health problems it can cause. As in people, being overweight, especially when it is pronounced, can have very serious consequences in addition to those already mentioned, such as:

  • Lower immunological resistance;

  • Lower heat tolerance;

  • Decreased vitality and difficulty in movement;

  • Respiratory problems (dyspnea);

  • Dermatological problems (bald skin, etc.);

  • Increased blood pressure;

  • Increased risk of heart disease (congestive heart failure);

  • Predisposition to diabetes;

  • Increased risk of developing transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder;

  • Increases the risk of complications in anesthesia;

  • Reduction in life expectancy;


For all this, we can affirm that effective weight control is a determining factor in the success of physical therapy, establishing two groups of recipients:

  • Patients with a normal weight and limited physical activity, in which case the objective would be weight maintenance.

  • Overweight or obese patients, whose goal would be to reduce weight.


In the case of patients who come to us with a pathology, whether orthopedic or neurological, a consequence or not of being overweight, we must take this aspect into account, since we must add weight loss to our pathology rehabilitation objectives, since As we mentioned previously, physiotherapy should not only be aimed at solving the problem, but also at achieving stability and preventing future problems.

Despite considering obesity as a heterogeneous, complex and multifactorial entity, genetic, metabolic, endocrinological and environmental factors are recognized. However, exogenous obesity or overnutrition is the main cause. Environmental factors include both increased food intake and reduced physical activity. Ignorance of basic nutrition concepts further aggravates the problem. In the event that once the case has been studied, it is determined that the origin of obesity is genetic, metabolic or endocrine, it is best to put yourself in the hands of the veterinarian, since he or she will best determine the path to follow. On the contrary, if it is an environmental factor, our margin of action is somewhat greater.

On the one hand, our main tool must be information. Talk to the owner and establish a treatment plan. Tell them how this is affecting the health and quality of life of the animal and its impact on the possibilities of recovery from its pathology if it were to happen that it had reached "our hands" through that route.

If the animal does not present any traumatological or neurological pathology, it would be the owner who should take action on the matter and assume that their pet has an overweight problem and act accordingly. A reduction in food intake must be recommended, with adequate characteristics so that even though intake is reduced the caloric intake is not excessive, and an increase in physical activity with control, since overexertion can lead to heart problems.

In this case, in addition to achieving the owner's commitment, what physiotherapy can provide is control in this physical activity. Create a work plan in which neither the joints nor the tendons of the animal are overloaded and in which experience and our professional vision make us determine when it is time to stop the exercise to avoid the cardiac problems that it causes. alluded to earlier. At this point, aquatic therapy is a highly estimable resource, as are therapeutic exercises, which we will try to be playful and motivating for the dog, since obesity in the animal must also make us suspect that its predisposition to exercise It may not be ideal either.

On the other hand, if the animal has a pathology, our work must combine both aspects. On the one hand, recovery from the injury and, on the other, lay the foundations for future well-being, so to the above we would have to add the action protocol based on the pathology and knowing how to determine when that animal can assimilate a greater workload with which we can balance the energy intake-expenditure balance at first and subsequently rebalance it at the pace and in the direction that we decide.

In both cases, relying on a professional team manages to minimize the risks of the process and optimize it.

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