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1.  Comparison of voluntary food intake and palatability of commercial weight loss diets in healthy dogs and cats 
BMC Veterinary Research  2016;12:274.
Obesity in dogs and cats is usually managed by dietary energy restriction using a purpose-formulated weight loss diet, but signs of hunger and begging commonly occur causing poor owner compliance. Altering diet characteristics so as to reduce voluntary food intake (VFI) can improve the likelihood of success, although this should not be at the expense of palatability. The aim of the current study was to compare the VFI and palatibility of novel commercially available canine and feline weight loss diets.
The relative performance of two canine (C1 and C2) and two feline (F1 and F2) diets was assessed in groups of healthy adult dogs and cats, respectively. Diets varied in energy, protein, fibre, and fat content. To assess canine VFI, 12 (study 1) and 10 (study 2) dogs were offered food in 4 meals, for 15 min on each occasion, with hourly intervals between the meals. For feline VFI, 12 cats were offered food ad libitum for a period of 18 h per day over 5 consecutive days. The palatability studies used separate panels of 37 dogs and 30 cats, with the two diets being served, side-by-side, in identical bowls.
In dogs, VFI was significantly less for diet C1 than diet C2 when assessed on energy intake (study 1, 42% less, P = 0.032; study 2, 28% less, P = 0.019), but there was no difference in gram weight intake (study 1: P = 0.964; study 2: P = 0.255). In cats, VFI was 17% less for diet F1 than diet F2 when assessed by energy intake (P < 0.001), but there was again no difference in gram weight (P = 0.207). There was no difference in palatability between the two canine diets (P = 0.490), whilst the panel of cats diet preferred F1 to F2 (P < 0.001).
Foods with different characteristics can decrease VFI without affecting palatability in both dogs and cats. The effects seen could be due to decreased energy content, decreased fat content, increased fibre content, different fibre source, and increased protein content. Further studies are now needed to determine whether similar findings occur in obese dogs and cats on controlled weight loss programmes.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12917-016-0899-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC5139085  PMID: 27919269
Obesity; Canine; Appetite; Weight loss
2.  Weight management in obese pets: the tailoring concept and how it can improve results 
Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica  2016;58(Suppl 1):57.
Obesity is now recognised as the most important medical disease in pets worldwide. All current strategies for weight management involve dietary energy restriction with a purpose-formulated diet. Whilst current weight management regimes can be successful, outcomes are often disappointing with the rate of weight loss progressively slowing down as time goes on. Success is most challenging for the most obese dogs and cats that are more likely to discontinue the programme before reaching target weight. To improve outcomes, clinicians must focus carefully on better tailoring programmes, paying particular to setting an appropriate target weight so as to maximise the benefits for the individual. In this opinionated review, the author will discuss findings from recent clinical research studies examining weight management in obese dogs and cats. A strategy for tailoring weight management targets will then be discussed, illustrated with case examples.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13028-016-0238-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC5073926  PMID: 27766974
Overweight; Dog; Cat; Dietary energy restriction; Success; Rebound
3.  Obese dogs with and without obesity-related metabolic dysfunction – a proteomic approach 
BMC Veterinary Research  2016;12:211.
Approximately 20 % of obese dogs have metabolic disturbances similar to those observed in human metabolic syndrome, a condition known as obesity-related metabolic dysfunction. This condition is associated with insulin resistance and decreased circulating adiponectin concentrations, but clinical consequences have not been reported. In order to define better the metabolic changes associated with obesity-related metabolic dysfunction (ORMD), we compared the plasma proteomes of obese dogs with and without ORMD.
A proteomic analysis was conducted on plasma samples from 8 obese male dogs, 4 with ORMD and 4 without ORMD. The samples were first treated for the depletion of high-abundance proteins and subsequently analysed by using 2-DE DIGE methodology.
Using mass spectrometry, 12 proteins were identified: albumin, apoliprotein A-I, C2, C3, C5, C4BPA, A2M, Uncharacterised protein (Fragment) OS = Canis familiaris, fibrinogen, IGJ, ITIH2, and glutathione peroxidase. In obese dogs with ORMD, the relative amounts of ten proteins (albumin, apoliprotein A-I, C2, C3, C5, C4BPA, A2M, Uncharacterised protein (Fragment) OS = Canis familiaris, fibrinogen, and ITIH2) were increased and two proteins (IGJ and glutathione peroxidase) were decreased, compared with obese dogs without ORMD. Specific assays were then used to confirm differences in serum albumin, apoliprotein A-I and glutathione peroxidase in a separate group of 20 overweight dogs, 8 with ORMD and 12 without ORMD.
The current study provides evidence that, in obese dogs with ORMD, there are changes in expression of proteins involved in lipid metabolism, immune response, and antioxidant status. The clinical significance of these changes remains to be defined.
PMCID: PMC5028949  PMID: 27646300
Antioxidants; Complement system; Dog; Immune response; Lipid metabolism; Metabolic syndrome; Obesity
4.  Can you estimate body composition in dogs from photographs? 
A validated method for assessing the visual characteristics of body condition from photographs (vBCS), would be a useful initial screening tool for client-owned dogs.
In this retrospective study, photographs taken before and after weight loss from 155 overweight and obese dogs attending a weight management referral clinic were used in designing and testing the feasibility of vBCS. Observers with a range of experience examined the photographs, and estimated body condition indirectly (vBCS) using three different methods. In the first method (vBCSmeasured), the ratio of abdominal width to thoracic width (A:T) was measured, and cut-points used to determine body condition; the second method (iBCSsubjective) involved semi-quantitative examination using visual descriptors of BCS; the third (vBCSadjusted) was a combined approach whereby A:T ratio was first determined, and the final score modified if necessary after assessing photographs.
When an experienced observer performed vBCS, there were moderate-to-good associations between body fat (measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) and the three vBCS methods (median Rs: 0.51-0.75; P < 0.001), and also moderate-to-substantial agreement with actual BCS (median kappa 0.51–0.63; P < 0.001). For operators with a range of experience, moderate-to-substantial agreement was generally seen between actual BCS and the scores determined by all three methods (median Kappa 0.55–0.70, P < 0.001), but the strength of agreement varied amongst observers. Age, sex, breed, coat length, and coat colour had no significant effect on vBCS (P > 0.05 for all). Compared with ideal weight and obese dogs, errors in assessing body condition were more common for overweight dogs (e.g. BCS 6–7/9, P < 0.001) by vBCSadjusted (P = 0.008), and vBCSsubjective (P = 0.021), but not by vBCSmeasured (P = 0.150). For vBCSadjusted, body condition was most often overestimated whilst, for vBCSsubjective, body condition was most often under-estimated.
An estimate of body condition can be obtained from an indirect assessment of photographs, but performance varies amongst observers.
PMCID: PMC4719652  PMID: 26786175
Canine; Obesity; Body condition score; Adipose tissue
5.  A Deletion in the Canine POMC Gene Is Associated with Weight and Appetite in Obesity-Prone Labrador Retriever Dogs 
Cell Metabolism  2016;23(5):893-900.
Sequencing of candidate genes for obesity in Labrador retriever dogs identified a 14 bp deletion in pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) with an allele frequency of 12%. The deletion disrupts the β-MSH and β-endorphin coding sequences and is associated with body weight (per allele effect of 0.33 SD), adiposity, and greater food motivation. Among other dog breeds, the deletion was only found in the closely related flat-coat retriever (FCR), where it is similarly associated with body weight and food motivation. The mutation is significantly more common in Labrador retrievers selected to become assistance dogs than pets. In conclusion, the deletion in POMC is a significant modifier of weight and appetite in Labrador retrievers and FCRs and may influence other behavioral traits.
Graphical Abstract
•A POMC mutation is common in the obesity-prone Labrador retriever breed of dog•It disrupts β-MSH and β-endorphin production, both implicated in energy homeostasis•Mutation is absent from other breeds except related flat-coat retrievers•The mutation is associated with weight, adiposity, and food motivation in both breeds
Companion dogs from the obesity-prone Labrador retriever breed were found to carry a mutation in POMC in this study by Raffan et al. The mutation is predicted to disrupt production of the neuroactive peptides β-MSH and β-endorphin and was associated with greater weight, adiposity, and food motivation in affected dogs.
PMCID: PMC4873617  PMID: 27157046
6.  Letter to Editor 
PMCID: PMC4913620  PMID: 26677836
7.  Assessing the adequacy of essential nutrient intake in obese dogs undergoing energy restriction for weight loss: a cohort study 
BMC Veterinary Research  2015;11:253.
Canine obesity is usually treated with dietary energy restriction, but data are limited regarding nutritional adequacy. The aim of the current study was to compare intake of essential nutrients with National Research Council recommendations in obese dogs during weight management with a purpose-formulated diet.
Twenty-seven dogs were included in this non-randomised retrospective observational cohort study. All were determined to be systemically well, and without significant abnormalities based upon physical examination and clinicopathological assessments. The dogs underwent a controlled weight loss protocol of at least 182 days’ duration using a high protein high fibre weight loss diet. Median, maximum, and minimum daily intakes of all essential nutrients were compared against NRC 2006 recommended allowances (RA) for adult dogs.
Median weight loss was 28 % (16–40 %), mean daily energy intake was 61 kcal/kg0.75 (44–74 kcal/kg0.75), and no clinical signs of nutrient deficiency were observed in any dog. Based upon the average nutrient content of the diet, daily intake of the majority of essential nutrients was greater than their NRC 2006 recommended allowance (RA per kg body weight0.75), except for selenium, choline, methionine/cysteine, tryptophan, magnesium, and potassium. However, apart from choline (2/27 dogs) and methionine/cysteine (2/27 dogs), all essential nutrients remained above NRC minimum requirements (MR) throughout the trial.
When fed the diet used in the current study, daily intakes of most essential nutrients meet both their NRC 2006 RA and MR in obese dogs during weight loss. In light of absence of clinical signs of nutrient deficiency, it is unclear what significance intakes less that NRC cut-offs for some nutrients have (especially selenium and choline), and further studies are recommended.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12917-015-0570-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4597434  PMID: 26446678
Canine; Caloric restriction; Nutritional adequacy
8.  Weight management in dogs and cats 
Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica  2015;57(Suppl 1):K7.
PMCID: PMC4594169
9.  How often do primary care veterinarians record the overweight status of dogs?* 
Obesity is a prevalent medical condition in dogs caused by the excess accumulation of fat, with negative effects on quality of life, longevity and the risk of developing associated pathologies. However, it is unclear how frequently first-opinion veterinarians record dogs as overweight (OW) or obese in medical records, and what factors determine when they do. Data sourced through the Small Animal Surveillance Network were used to determine the relative frequency of recording OW status (obesity or OW) in dogs presented to the UK first-opinion practices. Cases were identified using a search of clinical record-free text for relevant keywords. A case–control study was then conducted, comparing dogs where the OW status was recorded with a control group of obese dogs with no diagnosis recorded. Of 49 488 consultations, the OW status was recorded in 671 dogs (relative frequency 1·4 %). Using multiple logistic regression, the OW status of a dog was more likely to be recorded when the consultation was for osteoarthritis (OR 5·42; 95 % CI 2·09, 14·07; P < 0·001) or lameness (OR 2·02; 95 % CI 1·20, 3·42; P = 0·006). Furthermore, the OW status was more commonly recorded in dogs that were members of a practice health scheme (OR 5·35; 95 % CI 1·57, 18·17; P = 0·04) and less commonly recorded in microchipped dogs (OR 0·43; 95 % CI 0·41, 0·91; P = 0·02). These results suggest that OW and obesity are underdiagnosed in the first-opinion practice. However, a presentation for orthopaedic disease appears a key prompt for recording the OW status. Further studies are now warranted to determine the reasons for such marked underdiagnosis.
PMCID: PMC4473162  PMID: 26101626
Obesity; Canine nutrition; Practice surveillance; BCS, body condition score; NSAID, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug; OW, overweight
10.  Energy Requirements of Adult Dogs: A Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e109681.
A meta-analysis was conducted to determine the maintenance energy requirements of adult dogs. Suitable publications were first identified, and then used to generate relationships amongst energy requirements, husbandry, activity level, methodology, sex, neuter status, dog size, and age in healthy adult dogs. Allometric equations for maintenance energy requirements were determined using log-log linear regression. So that the resulting equations could readily be compared with equations reported by the National Research Council, maintenance energy requirements in the current study were determined in kcal/kg0.75 body weight (BW). Ultimately, the data of 70 treatment groups from 29 publications were used, and mean (± standard deviation) maintenance energy requirements were 142.8±55.3 kcal.kgBW−−1. The corresponding allometric equation was 81.5 kcal.kgBW−−1 (adjusted R2 = 0.64; 70 treatment groups). Type of husbandry had a significant effect on maintenance energy requirements (P<0.001): requirements were greatest in racing dogs, followed by working dogs and hunting dogs, whilst the energy requirements of pet dogs and kennel dogs were least. Maintenance energy requirements were less in neutered compared with sexually intact dogs (P<0.001), but there was no effect of sex. Further, reported activity level tended to effect the maintenance energy requirement of the dog (P = 0.09). This review suggests that estimating maintenance energy requirements based on BW alone may not be accurate, but that predictions that factor in husbandry, neuter status and, possibly, activity level might be superior. Additionally, more information on the nutrient requirements of older dogs, and those at the extremes of body size (i.e. giant and toy breeds) is needed.
PMCID: PMC4196927  PMID: 25313818
11.  Hypercobalaminaemia is associated with hepatic and neoplastic disease in cats: a cross sectional study 
BMC Veterinary Research  2014;10:175.
When increased serum cobalamin concentrations are encountered clinically they are usually attributed to parenteral supplementation, dietary factors, or otherwise ignored. However, recently, hypercobalaminaemia has been associated with numerous diseases in humans, most notably neoplastic and hepatic disorders. The aim of this retrospective, observational, cross-sectional study was to determine the significance of increased cobalamin in cats.
In total, 237 records were retrieved and 174 cats, of various ages and sexes met the inclusion criteria. A total of 42 cats had increased serum cobalamin concentration, and had not received prior supplementation. Multiple logistic regression analysis revealed that increased serum cobalamin concentration was positively related to pedigree breed (pedigree breeds more likely to have increased cobalamin concentration, odds ratio [OR] 4.24, 95% CI 1.78-10.15, P = 0.001), to having liver disease (OR 9.91, 95% CI 3.54-27.68), and to having a solid neoplasm (OR 8.54, 95% CI 1.10-66.45).
The results of the current study suggest that increased serum cobalamin concentrations should not be ignored in cats with no history of supplementation, and investigation for underlying hepatic or neoplastic disease is warranted.
PMCID: PMC4236818  PMID: 25103858
B12; Vitamin; Feline
12.  Increasing volume of food by incorporating air reduces energy intake* 
Major challenges with weight management using weight-loss diets include hunger and rapid consumption of food, both of which lead to poor owner compliance. The aim of the present study was to determine the effect of increasing volume, by incorporating air, into dry expanded food, on satiety in dogs. Three studies have been performed. The first study aimed to measure the effect of volume of food on meal duration in dogs fed at their maintenance energy requirement. The purpose of the second study was to determine the effect of volume of food on satiety. The aim of the third study was to compare the satiety effect of the test diet with a maintenance dry diet commonly used in adult dogs. Throughout the studies, faecal score remained optimal. As volume of diet increased, the duration of food intake significantly increased (P < 0·001) and energy intake significantly decreased (P = 0·012). The present study has demonstrated that incorporating air into food to increase the volume of diet induces a satiety effect, independent of macronutrient profile, possibly by slowing food intake. Consequently, incorporating air into food might be a useful strategy for weight management in companion animals.
PMCID: PMC4473155  PMID: 26101627
Weight management; Satiety; Volume of food; Canine nutrition; BW, body weight
13.  Owner misperception of canine body condition persists despite use of a body condition score chart* 
Canine obesity is a prevalent disease, but many owners are unaware of it, partly due to misperception of their dog's body shape. Body condition scoring (BCS) is a simple method of assessing body composition, but whether it can reduce owner misperception is unclear. Our aim was to determine the effect of a BCS system on owners' ability to estimate the body condition of their dog. Information from 110 dog owners attending three UK veterinary practices was gathered, by interview, between March and April 2013. First, owners were asked to determine their dog's body condition without guidance, and then reassess it using a five-point BCS chart. Most owners (85/110, 77 %) believed the chart to have improved their ability to estimate the condition of their dog correctly. However, only a weak agreement existed between owner estimates and those of the primary investigator, both with (kappa (κ) = 0·28; P < 0·001) and without (κ = 0·32; P < 0·001) the BCS chart. Furthermore, most owners incorrectly estimated their dog's body condition, both with (71/110; 64 %) and without (72/110; 65 %) the chart (P = 1·00), with underestimation being most common (with = 63/71, 89 %; without = 66/72, 92 %; P = 0·57). Owners of overweight dogs more commonly misperceived their dog's body condition, both with (BCS 1–3: 5/35, 14 %; BCS 4–5: 64/75, 85 %; P < 0·001) and without (BCS 1–3: 10/35, 28 %; BCS 4–5: 61/75, 81 %; P < 0·001) the BCS chart. Thus, use of a five-point BCS chart does not improve accuracy of owners' perception of their dog's body shape, despite the accompanying perception that it does.
PMCID: PMC4473163  PMID: 26101613
Obesity; Dogs; Body composition; BCS, body condition score
14.  Long-term follow-up after weight management in obese cats* 
Feline obesity is a prevalent medical disease and the main therapeutic strategy is dietary energy restriction. However, at present there are no data regarding long-term outcome in this species. The purpose of the present study was to investigate if, as in other species, some cats regain weight following successful weight loss, and to identify any influencing factors in a cohort of client-owned cats with naturally occurring obesity. Twenty-six cats were included, all of which had successfully completed a weight management programme. After weight loss, cats were periodically monitored. The median duration of follow-up was 954 d (72–2162 d). Ten cats (39 %) maintained their completion weight (±5 %), four (15 %) lost >5 % additional weight and 12 (46 %) gained >5 % weight. Seven of the rebounding cats (58 %) regained over 50 % of their original weight lost. Older cats were less likely to regain weight than younger cats (P = 0·024); with an approximately linear negative association between the cat's age and the amount of weight regained (Kendall's τ = −0·340, P = 0·016). Furthermore, cats whose energy intake during weight loss was greater were also more likely to regain weight (P = 0·023). When the characteristics of weight regain in cats were compared with those from a similar cohort of dogs, cats that rebounded were more likely to regain >50 % of the weight they had lost. These results suggest that weight regain, after successful weight loss, is common in obese cats, and that young cats (<7 years of age) are most at risk.
PMCID: PMC4473167  PMID: 26101594
Weight loss; Overweight; Feline nutrition; Weight regain
15.  Status of selected nutrients in obese dogs undergoing caloric restriction 
The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that dog plasma concentrations of selected nutrients decrease after undergoing caloric restriction for weight loss. Thirty-one overweight dogs that had successfully lost at least 15% of initial body weight were included in the study. Nutrients that had been previously identified to be at potential risk of deficiency during caloric restriction were measured in plasma (choline, amino acids) and urine (selenium) at the initiation and completion of a standardized weight loss regimen in dogs.
Dogs remained healthy throughout the study, and no signs attributable to nutrient deficiency were noted. Percentage weight loss was 28.3% (16.0-40.1%) starting body weight, over a period of 250 days (91–674 days). Median energy intake during the weight loss period was 62 (44 to 74) Kcal/kg0.75 target weight per day. Choline (P = 0.046) and threonine (P = 0.02) decreased after weight loss. Glycine (P = 0.041), and urinary selenium:creatinine ratio (P = 0.006) both increased after weight loss. There were no other significant differences in plasma nutrient concentrations.
Since concentrations of most measured nutrients did not change significantly, the data are not consistent with widespread nutrient deficiency in dogs undergoing caloric restriction using a diet formulated for weight loss. However, the significance of the decrease in plasma choline concentration requires further assessment.
PMCID: PMC4016246  PMID: 24156605
Malnutrition; Overweight; Canine; Weight loss; Weight management
16.  A cross-sectional study of frequency and factors associated with dog walking in 9–10 year old children in Liverpool, UK 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:822.
Owning a pet dog could potentially improve child health through encouraging participation in physical activity, through dog walking. However, evidence to support this is limited and conflicting. In particular, little is known about children’s participation in dog walking and factors that may be associated with this. The objective of this study was to describe the participation of children in dog walking, including their own and those belonging to somebody else, and investigate factors associated with regular walking with their own pet dog.
Primary school children (n=1021, 9–10 years) from a deprived area of Liverpool were surveyed during a ‘fitness fun day’ as part of the SportsLinx project. The ‘Child Lifestyle and Pets’ survey included questions about pet ownership, pet attachment, and dog walking. Multivariable logistic regression models were used to investigate factors associated with walking any dog, or their own dog, several times a day or more, including level of attachment to the dog, dog type, and sociodemographic factors.
Overall, 15.4% of children reported walking with any dog (their own or belonging to a friend or family member) ≥ once daily, 14.1% several times a week, 27.6% ≤ once a week, and 42.8% never. Dog owning children (37.1% of the population) more often reported dog walking ‘several times a week or more’ (OR=12.30, 95% CI=8.10-18.69, P<0.001) compared to those without a dog, but were less likely to report other walking without a dog. The majority (59.3%) of dog owning children indicated that they usually walked their dog, with 34.6% reporting that they walked their dog ≥ once daily. Attachment score was highly associated with the child reporting walking their dog (lower score=higher attachment; OR=0.93, 95% CI=0.89-0.96, P<0.001). There was no evidence that gender, ethnicity, sibling status or deprivation score was associated with dog walking. Children that reported owning Pit Bulls were more likely to report friends walking with their dog than those owning non-Pit bull types (OR=10.01, 95% CI=1.52-65.76, P=0.02, respectively).
Promotion of supervised walking of suitable pet dogs may be an opportunity for increasing physical activity in 9–10 year old children. The identification of stronger attachment to dogs regularly walked is similar to findings in adult studies.
PMCID: PMC4015861  PMID: 24015895
Dog; Physical activity; Walking; Children; Attachment
17.  Pet ownership, dog types and attachment to pets in 9–10 year old children in Liverpool, UK 
Little is known about ethnic, cultural and socioeconomic differences in childhood ownership and attitudes to pets. The objective of this study was to describe the factors associated with living with different pet types, as well as factors that may influence the intensity of relationship or ‘attachment’ that children have to their pet. Data were collected using a survey of 1021 9–10 year old primary school children in a deprived area of the city of Liverpool, UK.
Dogs were the most common pet owned, most common ‘favourite’ pet, and species most attached to. Twenty-seven percent of dog-owning children (10% of all children surveyed) reported living with a ‘Bull Breed’ dog (which includes Pit Bulls and Staffordshire Bull Terriers), and the most popular dog breed owned was the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Multivariable regression modelling identified a number of variables associated with ownership of different pets and the strength of attachment to the child’s favourite pet. Girls were more likely to own most pet types, but were no more or less attached to their favourite pet than boys. Children of white ethnicity were more likely to own dogs, rodents and ‘other’ pets but were no more or less attached to their pets than children of non-white ethnicity. Single and youngest children were no more or less likely to own pets than those with younger brothers and sisters, but they showed greater attachment to their pets. Children that owned dogs lived in more deprived areas than those without dogs, and deprivation increased with number of dogs owned. ‘Pit Bull or cross’ and ‘Bull Breed’ dogs were more likely to be found in more deprived areas than other dog types. Non-whites were also more likely to report owning a ‘Pit Bull or cross’ than Whites.
Gender, ethnicity and socioeconomic status were associated with pet ownership, and sibling status with level of attachment to the pet. These are important to consider when conducting research into the health benefits and risks of the common childhood phenomenon of growing up with pets.
PMCID: PMC3655841  PMID: 23668544
18.  Faster growth rate in ad libitum-fed cats: a risk factor predicting the likelihood of becoming overweight during adulthood 
In human subjects, the risk of becoming overweight (OW) in adulthood is largely determined early in childhood. However, early-life factors have not been considered for feline obesity. A total of eighty colony cats, fed ad libitum, were studied; various breeds, ages and sex were included, with thirty-six (45 %) being OW and forty-four (55 %) being of ideal weight (IW). The effects of various factors (including age, sex, neuter status, breed (pure v. mixed), mean daily food intake (FI), housing status (indoor with outdoor access v. exclusively indoor) and body weight at 1 year of age (BW1y)) on weight status were assessed. Initial statistical analyses identified BW1y as the main significant variable. Body weight (BW) and FI were then assessed between 1 and 8·5 years of age, with group differences (OW v. IW) noted for BW, which increased significantly with age only in the OW group (P < 0·001). However, no difference in BW (P = 0·17) was noted when BW1y was included as a covariate in the model. FI did not change with age in either group. Finally, given the importance of BW1y, changes in BW from 3 to 12 months were then assessed with BW at 3 months of age included as a covariate. Whereas at 3 months of age, no group difference in BW was observed, a faster rate of weight gain was seen in OW cats. In conclusion, as in human subjects, the rate of growth is a key risk factor for cats becoming OW, although the factors responsible are currently not known.
PMCID: PMC4153074  PMID: 25191559
Obesity; Feline nutrition; Adolescents; Adiposity; BCS, body condition score; BW, body weight; BW1y, body weight at 1 year of age; F, food intake; IW, ideal weight; OW, overweight; VIP, variable importance in projection
19.  Obesity-related metabolic dysfunction in dogs: a comparison with human metabolic syndrome 
Recently, metabolic syndrome (MS) has gained attention in human metabolic medicine given its associations with development of type 2 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease. Canine obesity is associated with the development of insulin resistance, dyslipidaemia, and mild hypertension, but the authors are not aware of any existing studies examining the existence or prevalence of MS in obese dogs.
Thirty-five obese dogs were assessed before and after weight loss (median percentage loss 29%, range 10-44%). The diagnostic criteria of the International Diabetes Federation were modified in order to define canine obesity-related metabolic dysfunction (ORMD), which included a measure of adiposity (using a 9-point body condition score [BCS]), systolic blood pressure, fasting plasma cholesterol, plasma triglyceride, and fasting plasma glucose. By way of comparison, total body fat mass was measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, whilst total adiponectin, fasting insulin, and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) were measured using validated assays.
Systolic blood pressure (P = 0.008), cholesterol (P = 0.003), triglyceride (P = 0.018), and fasting insulin (P < 0.001) all decreased after weight loss, whilst plasma total adiponectin increased (P = 0.001). However, hsCRP did not change with weight loss. Prior to weight loss, 7 dogs were defined as having ORMD, and there was no difference in total fat mass between these dogs and those who did not meet the criteria for ORMD. However, plasma adiponectin concentration was less (P = 0.031), and plasma insulin concentration was greater (P = 0.030) in ORMD dogs.
In this study, approximately 20% of obese dogs suffer from ORMD, and this is characterized by hypoadiponectinaemia and hyperinsulinaemia. These studies can form the basis of further investigations to determine path genetic mechanisms and the health significance for dogs, in terms of disease associations and outcomes of weight loss.
PMCID: PMC3514388  PMID: 22929809
Canine; Insulin resistance; Weight loss; Adiponectin
20.  A blinded randomised controlled trial to determine the effect of enteric coating on enzyme treatment for canine exocrine pancreatic efficiency 
Enzyme treatment is the mainstay for management of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) in dogs. ‘Enteric-coated’ preparations have been developed to protect the enzyme from degradation in the stomach, but their efficacy has not been critically evaluated. The hypothesis of the current study was that enteric coating would have no effect on the efficacy of pancreatic enzyme treatment for dogs with EPI.
Thirty-eight client-owned dogs with naturally occurring EPI were included in this multicentre, blinded, randomised controlled trial. Dogs received either an enteric-coated enzyme preparation (test treatment) or an identical preparation without the enteric coating (control treatment) over a period of 56 days.
There were no significant differences in either signalment or cobalamin status (where cobalamin deficient or not) between the dogs on the test and control treatments. Body weight and body condition score increased in both groups during the trial (P<0.001) but the magnitude of increase was greater for the test treatment compared with the control treatment (P<0.001). By day 56, mean body weight increase was 17% (95% confidence interval 11-23%) in the test treatment group and 9% (95% confidence interval 4-15%) in the control treatment group. The dose of enzyme required increased over time (P<0.001) but there was no significant difference between treatments at any time point (P=0.225). Clinical disease severity score decreased over time for both groups (P=0.011) and no difference was noted between groups (P=0.869). No significant adverse effects were reported, for either treatment, for the duration of the trial.
Enteric coating a pancreatic enzyme treatment improves response in canine EPI.
PMCID: PMC3412697  PMID: 22839732
Dog; Pancreas; Malabsorption; Diarrhoea; Lipase; Trypsin
21.  Dog Ownership during Pregnancy, Maternal Activity, and Obesity: A Cross-Sectional Study 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e31315.
The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) is an observational study of 14273 UK pregnant singleton mothers in 1990/1991. We examined outcomes of self report of strenuous activity (hours per week) at 18 and 32 weeks of gestation, hours spent in leisure-time physical activities and types, and pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI); overweight status was defined as pre-pregnancy BMI≥25 and obesity BMI≥30. Pet ownership and activity data were reported for 11,466 mothers. Twenty-five percent of mothers owned at least one dog. There was a positive relationship between participation in activity at least once a week and dog ownership (at 18 weeks, Odds ratio 1.27, 95% confidence interval 1.11–1.44, P<0.001). Dog owners were 50% more likely to achieve the recommended 3 hours activity per week, equivalent to 30 minutes per day, most days of the week (1.53, 1.35–1.72, P<0.001). Dog owners were also more likely to participate in brisk walking activity than those who did not have a dog (compared to no brisk walking 2–6 hrs per week 1.43, 1.23 to 1.67, P<0.001; 7+ hrs per week 1.80, 1.43 to 2.27, P<0.001). However, no association was found with any other types of activities and there was no association between dog ownership and weight status. During the time period studied, pregnant women who had dogs were more active, through walking, than those who did not own dogs. As walking is a low-risk exercise, participation of pregnant women in dog walking activities may be a useful context to investigate as part of a broader strategy to improve activity levels in pregnant women.
PMCID: PMC3280272  PMID: 22355356
22.  Incorporation of exercise, using an underwater treadmill, and active client education into a weight management program for obese dogs 
The Canadian Veterinary Journal  2011;52(5):491-496.
Physical activity improves outcome of weight loss in obese humans, but limited information exists for dogs. Eight obese dogs (body condition score 5/5), of various breeds and genders, undertook a 3-month weight-loss program which included exercise using lead walks and underwater treadmill exercise. The median number of treadmill exercise sessions per dog was 13 (range: 5 to 17). Median distance walked per session was 0.97 km (range: 0.05 to 2.7 km) (0.6 miles; range: 0.03 to 1.70 miles) and this increased sequentially over the course of the study (P < 0.001). Mean [± standard deviation (s)] percentage of starting weight loss over the 3 mo was 18.9 ± 5.44%, equivalent to a rate of weight loss of 1.5 ± 0.43% per week. Thoracic and abdominal girth also declined significantly during the program (P < 0.0001 for both). This study demonstrates the potential benefit of including an organized exercise regimen, utilizing an underwater treadmill, in conventional canine weight management programs.
PMCID: PMC3077998  PMID: 22043067
23.  Family Pet Ownership during Childhood: Findings from a UK Birth Cohort and Implications for Public Health Research 
In developed nations, approximately half of household environments contain pets. Studies of Human-Animal Interaction (HAI) have proposed that there are health benefits and risks associated with pet ownership. However, accurately demonstrating and understanding these relationships first requires a better knowledge of factors associated with ownership of different pet types. A UK birth cohort, the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), were used to collect pet ownership data from the mothers, from gestation to child age 10 years old. 14,663 children were included in the study, of which mothers of 13,557 reported pet information at gestation, and 7,800 by age 10. Pet types recorded include cat, dog, rabbit, rodent, bird, fish and tortoise/turtle. The dataset also contains a number of demographic, socioeconomic and behavioural variables relevant to human health behaviour. Logistic regression was used to build multivariable models for ownership of each pet type at age 7 years. Family pet ownership increased during childhood, in particular rabbits, rodents and fish. A number of socioeconomic and demographic factors were associated with ownership of different pet types and the effects differed depending on the pet type studied. Variables which require consideration by researchers include gender, presence of older siblings, ethnicity, maternal and paternal education, maternal and paternal social class, maternal age, number of people in the household, house type, and concurrent ownership of other pets. Whether the mother had pets during her childhood was a strong predictor of pet ownership in all models. In HAI studies, care should be taken to control for confounding factors, and to treat each pet type individually. ALSPAC and other similar birth cohorts can be considered a potential resource for research into the effects of pet ownership during childhood.
PMCID: PMC2996187  PMID: 21139856
ALSPAC; pet; dog; cat; child

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