Obesity in Dogs

Quality of life is reduced in obese dogs but improves after successful weight loss
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A.J. German (a), Corresponding author contact information, S.L. Holden (a),M.L. Wiseman-Orr(b),J. Reid(b), A.M. Nolan(b),V. Biourge(c),P.J. Morris(d),E.M. Scott(b)


Obesity is thought to affect quality of life, but limited objective data exist to support this supposition. The current study aim was to use a questionnaire to determine health-related quality of life (HRQOL) both before and after weight loss, in obese client-owned dogs. Fifty obese dogs were included, and represented a variety of breeds and genders. Prior to weight loss, owners were asked to complete a validated standardised questionnaire to determine HRQOL. Thirty of the dogs successfully completed their weight loss programme and reached target, and owners then completed a follow-up questionnaire. The completed questionnaire responses were transformed to scores corresponding to each of four factors (vitality, emotional disturbance, anxiety and pain), and scored on a scale of 0–6. Changes in the scores were used to explore the sensitivity of the questionnaire, and scores were correlated with responses to direct questions about quality of life and pain, as well as weight loss.

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Dogs that failed to complete their weight loss programme had lower vitality and higher emotional disturbance scores than those successfully losing weight (P = 0.03 for both). In the 30 dogs that completed, weight loss led to an increased vitality score (P < 0.001), and decreased scores for both emotional disturbance (P < 0.001) and pain (P < 0.001). However, there was no change in anxiety (P = 0.09). The change in vitality score was positively associated with percentage weight loss (rP = 0.43, P = 0.02) and percentage body fat loss (rP = 0.39, P = 0.03). These results indicate demonstrable improvement in HRQOL for obese dogs that successfully lose weight.

a Department of Obesity and Endocrinology, Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease, University of Liverpool, Leahurst Campus, Chester High Road, Neston, Wirral CH64 7TE, United Kingdom
b Pain and Welfare Group, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QW, United Kingdom
c The WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition, Freeby Lane, Waltham-on-the-Wolds, Melton Mowbray LE14 4RT, United Kingdom
d Royal Canin Research Center, B.P.4 – 650 Avenue de la Petite Camargue, 30470 Aimargues, France

Accepted 22 September 2011. Available online 8 November 2011.


Weight management;
Health-related quality of life