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Science Friday, September 7th 2012 at 2:47 pm

Fat Camp for Kittehs: Nation’s First Veterinary Obesity Clinic Opens Doors

If you find the fat cat pictured above adorable, you’re not alone. You’re also kind of a monster, giggling at the nationwide health epidemic that is animal obesity. Animal obesity is not cute — I mean, yeah, it’s kind of cute, because look at the kitty’s big furry belly! – but a health scourge suffered by up to 60% and cats and dogs in the nation. The Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University is moving to combat out of control weight gain in U.S. housepets, who are even more likely to be overweight than their increasingly pudgy human owners, by opening the Tufts’ Veterinary Obesity Clinic.

The new clinic will be staffed by licensed veterinary nutritionists, which is apparently a job now, and other animal obesity experts, and will operate not unlike obesity clinics for humans, developing new diet and nutrition plans for pets that aim to strip those extra pounds of Alpo from Rover’s ample frame. ”By employing sound, research-proven methods, Tufts’ Veterinary Obesity Clinic will help owners achieve safe and effective weight loss for their pets,” said Dr. Deborah Linder, an animal obesity researcher who will oversee the clinic.

While most cats and dogs don’t develop the life-threatening conditions — like cardiovascular disease — that are associated with obesity in humans, being overweight can affect animals in other ways, like wreaking havoc on their joints and complicating other health problems. Tufts’ Veterinary Obesity Clinic will focus on treating housepets like cats and dogs who have already failed to lose weight under the care of other vets, acting as sort of a last chance at weight loss for the Garfields of the world, but its mission won’t stop there. In addition, it will provide training and education to other animal health care providers so they can better treat animal obesity in their own clinics and act as an incubator for animal obesity research.

And no, this is not the cue for you to declare your dining room an incubator for animal obesity research because you feed the dog scraps from the table. Science does not work that way and you darn well know it.

(via ScienceDaily)

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