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Tailoring obesity conversations to enhance pet health and quality of life

Kansas City

Why every individual needs an individual approach

Sponsored by Purina

Presenting at the 2023 Fetch dvm360® Conference—Deborah E. Linder, DVM, MS, DACVIM (Nutrition), and clinical associate professor at Tufts University—discussed her approach to addressing pet obesity. In her session titled “The Lighter Side of Obesity: Making Weight Loss Fun and Exciting for Families,” Linder underlined the importance of understanding the unique relationship between pets and their owners and tailoring weight loss plans to suit individual needs.1

Linder said that she believes conversations about obesity don’t have to be negative or tense. Instead, she suggested focusing on quality of life and finding ways to improve a pet’s health while incorporating activities they enjoy. This approach not only alleviates stress for the veterinary care team but can also lead to better outcomes.

One of the key takeaways from Linder’s session is the importance of not making assumptions about pet owners’ behaviors or their bond with their pets. By understanding more about each family, veterinary professionals can develop creative strategies to address obesity. Linder also highlighted the importance of considering the nutrient profiles of different diets when recommending a weight loss plan for a pet. She shared her personal experience with her dog, who needed a high-protein, low-fiber diet due to his reduced activity levels after an injury.

“For every family, I really try to tailor it to what their needs are at feeding the pet, not feeding the disease,” she said. Linder’s approach emphasizes the need for individualized care plans that consider both the physical and emotional well-being of pets and their owners. By doing so, veterinary professionals can turn the challenge of addressing pet obesity into an opportunity to enhance the overall quality of life for pets and their families.


  1. Linder, DE. Heartworm Prevention - The Lighter Side of Obesity: Making Weight Loss Fun and Exciting for Families. Presented at: Fetch dvm360 Conference; Kansas City, MO. August 25-27, 2023.
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