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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Abdominal obesity is associated with heart disease in dogs

Naris Thengchaisri1*, Wutthiwong Theerapun1, Santi Kaewmokul2 and Amornrate Sastravaha1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Companion Animal Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Kasetsart University, 50 Pahonyothin Rd., Lat Yao, Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900, Thailand

2 Department of Physiology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Kasetsart University, Bangkok 10900, Thailand

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BMC Veterinary Research 2014, 10:131  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-10-131

Published: 13 June 2014



The relationship between overall obesity and fat distribution in dogs and the development of heart disease is unclear. In the present study we evaluated the association between overall obesity and fat distribution and clinical heart disease by morphometric and computed tomography (CT)-based measurements. Body condition score (BCS), modified body mass index (MBMI, kg/m2), waist-to-hock-to-stifle distance ratio (WHSDR), waist-to-ilium wing distance ratio (WIWDR), and waist-to-truncal length ratio (WTLR) were compared between dogs with (n = 44) and without (n = 43) heart disease using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis. Intra-abdominal fat (IAF) and subcutaneous fat (SQF) were measured in dogs with (n = 8) and without (n = 9) heart disease at the center of the fourth and fifth lumbar vertebrae by CT.


BCS was similar between heart disease and healthy groups (3.6 ± 0.2 vs. 3.3 ± 0.1, P = 0.126). The following morphometric measurements were greater in the heart disease group compared with healthy canines: MBMI (65.0 ± 4.5 vs. 52.5 ± 3.7 kg/m2, respectively, P = 0.035); WIWDR (4.1 ± 0.1 vs. 3.1 ± 0.1, P < 0.01); and WTLR (1.25 ± 0.04 vs. 1.05 ± 0.04, P < 0.01). However, there was no significant difference in WHSDR (3.6 ± 0.1 vs. 3.7 ± 0.2, P = 0.875). Interestingly, IAF was significantly increased in dogs with heart disease compared with healthy dogs (23.5 ± 1.5% vs. 19.4 ± 1.2%, P = 0.039) whereas SQF was similar between two groups (35.5 ± 2.7% vs. 38.6 ± 3.5%, P = 0.496). Of the five morphometric indices studied, WIWDR and WTLR provided acceptable discrimination for diagnosing heart disease in dogs, with areas under the ROC curve of 0.778 (95% confidence interval [CI]:0.683-0.874) and 0.727 (95% CI:0.619-0.835), respectively.


Our data indicate that abdominal obesity, rather than overall obesity, is associated with heart disease in dogs. Measurements of both WIWDR and WTLR are particular useful for detection of an abdominal obesity in dogs.

Dogs; Abdominal obesity; Heart disease; Receiver operating characteristic; Waist circumference; Computed tomography