Champaign, Ill. (WCIA)

Educating and engaging pet owners could be the single most important step that veterinary professionals can take to help overweight pets get the care they need, which is why Carrie Chandler, certified veterinary technician who is further credentialed as a Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner, joins us with more details on how we can help our pets lose the weight.

The rehabilitation service at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital not only assists patients recovering from surgery or from aging or neurologic problems, but also offers weight management assistance for pets.

A recent study ( reported that more than half of the nearly 2 million adult dogs seen by a large veterinary practice in 2019 were overweight or obese. Being overweight often leads to other health problems in pets, such as joint problems, heart disease, and poor quality of life. The report notes that dogs and cats are considered overweight if they are at least 10%–20% heavier than their ideal weight. That’s a problem because obesity in pets is associated with serious health conditions, including the following:
Metabolic abnormalities
Cardiovascular disease
Functional alterations, such as joint disorders and decreased immune functions

More troubling, less than 10% of those pets successfully lost weight following their diagnosis. And of those, roughly 40% gained it back within 12 months.

Veterinarians use a body condition scoring system to determine whether a pet is too heavy.
The Rehabilitation Service is available to assist in creating and implementing an individualized weight-loss plan for your pet that includes exercise and changes in eating habits. The underwater treadmill and land treadmill are ways that our technicians encourage overweight pets to build conditioning and engage in fun exercise.