ISSN 2398-2985      

Obesity

4ferrets

Introduction

  • Obesity is defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health. The British Small Animal Veterinary Association have a 1-9 body condition score scale for dogs and cats. BCS of 8 & 9 are considered obese with at least 30% excess weight.
  • The BSAVA Statement on obesity: ‘In companion animals, obesity has a significant adverse effect on health and welfare including associations with various additional and often concurrent conditions or diseases, reduced life expectancy, functional impairment and poor quality of life'.
  •  Cause: predominantly caused by inappropriate or excessive food with inadequate exercise. Less commonly caused by hormonal imbalances.
  • Signs: excessive fat under skin and intra-abdominal/intra- coelomic. Lethargy, weakness, co-morbidities such as heart disease.
  • Diagnosis: weight measurement, BCS, scans.
  • Treatment: correct any nutritional imbalances, reduce high calorie foods, increase exercise.
  • Prognosis: good, with owner engagement.
Print off the Owner factsheet on Obesity in your ferret to give to your clients.

Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • Inappropriate balance between diet consumed and exercise taken.
  • Hormonal imbalances rare.
  • Chronic obesity will lead to insulin resistance and predispose the animal to development of diabetes mellitus Diabetes mellitus.

Predisposing factors

General

  • Inappropriate or excessive food provision.
  • Inability to exercise, such as searching for food.
  • In ferrets, steroid treatment for insulinoma and lymphoma can lead to weight gain and predispose to diabetes mellitus Diabetes mellitus.

Specific

  • Housed in cages with reduced exercise facilities.
  • High calorie food stuff fed too often or too much.
  • Steroid treatment for insulinoma and lymphoma can lead to weight gain.

Pathophysiology

  • Obese animals lay down fat in subcutaneous, intra-abdominal, intra-coelomic stores.
  • This contributes to poor mobility which can lead to conditions such as osteoarthritis, pododermatitis.
  • It will contribute to an inability to groom and clean itself leading to problems such as poor coat quality, flystrike and, in animals that ingest cecotrophs, poor digestive ability.
  • Fat can be stored in the liver to such an extent that the hepatocytes and then liver function is compromised.
  • Obesity can cause or exacerbate heart disease Heart disease:
    • Excessive fat affects the heart as cholesterol is laid down in blood vessels, including the coronary vessels.
    • High blood pressure can also lead to cardiac disease.

Timecourse

  • Usually prolonged over weeks to month.

Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Prevention

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed Papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Johnson-Delaney C (2014) Ferret nutrition. Vet Clin North Am Exotic Anim Pract 17, 449-470 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Johnson-Delaney C (2017) Ferret Medicine and Surgery. CRC Press, USA.
  • Gentz N (online) Nutrition for Ferrets. In: Veterinary Information Network. Website: www.vin.com.
  • Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (online) Ferrets - Nutritional Requirements. Website: www.pfma.org.uk.

Organisation(s)

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