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Tell us about: Dr. Burke Overweight Pets

The Dangers of an Overweight Pet

Getting your Furry Friend in Tip Top Shape

Much like what’s happening in the human world, our pets are getting heavier.  One too many treats, offering “people food” at dinnertime and the lack of consistent exercise has an estimated 59% of cats and 54% of dogs in the U.S. either overweight or obese. Nevada ranks in the top five states in the nation for portly pets, a statistic that brings far ranging health concerns for the longevity and general health of our four legged family members. Dr. Lukina Burks, Doctor of Veterinarian Medicine and founder of Companion Animal Rehab Plus, sheds light on the importance of keeping your pet at a healthy weight, while offering an action plan to get them back in shape and on the road to a long and active life.

How can I tell if my pet is overweight and why is it detrimental?

If your pet is just five pounds above its ideal body weight it can put them at risk for developing some serious medical conditions that include type 2 diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis, joint injuries, high blood pressure, and even some forms of cancer. To determine if your pet has a weight problem, feel around their ribs and spine. You should be able to locate both with only a thin layer of fat separating the skin from the bones. Of course some breeds are genetically built to carry more weight, but as a rule of thumb, dogs can be defined as being overweight if their bodyweight is 15% above ideal and classed as obese if they are more than 30% above their ideal weight. Keep in mind that this extra padding reduces both the lifespan and quality of life for your pet, and it’s something you can help to prevent.

I’ve determined “we’ve” got a problem, now what?

Taking responsibility for the part you play in your pet’s weight issues is important. We love and care for them as we would ourselves, but often the “love” we show by giving them extra treats and overfeeding them contributes to exuberating weight increase.  There are many others ways to reward your pet including play time and toys that stimulate mental and physical needs. This strategy helps twofold as they’re generally not getting enough exercise; something’s that’s also detrimental to their health. Because a safe weight loss for most animals is a three to five percent reduction per month, it’s important to team up with your veterinarian to discuss the best nutritional and exercise plan for your pet.  At Companion Animal Rehab Plus we can help you  focus on portion control and high-quality, palatable dieting while also creating a plan of action for daily exercise and play time. We encourage you to have fun with your pet, but most importantly to be in charge of their longevity by monitoring their overall health and well- being.

What if my pet has mobility issues or pain? How can I get them moving again?

Therapeutic exercise and fitness is important no matter the age and it’s never too late to get started! Of course daily walking is great for your pet, but for those that may be older or have joint and mobility issue, it may be prohibitive. As a certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist (CCRT) through the Canine Rehabilitation Institute (CRI), I specialize in helping animals with challenges.  At Companion Animal Rehab Plus, we design a specific exercise program for each patient’s needs and goals. This may include but is not limited to focusing on core strength and balance with wobbly boards and physioballs, gait retraining for dogs with neurologic problems or post-surgical restrictions, cavaletti rails, weaving around cones, climbing stairs and ramps, and more. We also understand it may be difficult to get your pup to our office for rehab. This is why we offer C.A.R.E. plus.  It’s a mobile service that brings the gym to your home or nearest park, allowing your pet to feel comfortable in a familiar setting during exercise. Finally, I’m also certified in acupuncture and herbal medication, laser therapy, neuromuscular electrical stimulation, pain management and more.  Regardless of your pet’s limitations, we can help to get them back on their feet, and ready for more.


Growing up in the inner city of Detroit, Michigan, Dr. Burks developed a natural kinship with animals using her allowance as a foster child to home and feed strays. Earning her doctorate from Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine in 2012, she became interested in rehabilitation and acupuncture to help treat pain and improve longevity in her patients. She is proud to provide high-quality veterinary medicine and compassion to animals while strengthening the human-animal bond. For more information, or to save 10% on first-time consultations and $5. off first massage, contact her at 702-557-7604 or email  Dr.Burks@annimalrehabplus.com.  

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