How Poor Nutrition Leads to Ill Health in Animals

Veterinarian examining dog.
Veterinarian examining dog. (Image: XiXinXing/XiXinXing/Getty Images)

Like humans, animals require proper nutrition to maintain their health. When an animal receives inadequate nutrition, the consequences on its holistic health and well-being can be severe.


A malnourished animal has received an insufficient quantity of life-sustaining nutrients, either due to neglect, disease, injury or a natural event, such as drought or a scarcity of food. Malnutrition precedes starvation, which, if untreated, can lead to death.


Obesity most commonly affects domesticated pets who have been overfed or given improper food sources, such as low-quality pet food or unwholesome “people” food. Extra weight places undue stress on organs, joints and ligaments, promoting disease and physical infirmities.


Many diseases are rooted in poor nutrition. A malnourished animal may suffer from rickets, nerve and immune disorders, and other degenerative diseases, while an obese animal may have diabetes, heart disease and increased blood pressure.

Behavioral Issues

A lack of adequate nutrition can produce behavioral problems in animals, including aggression, skittishness and anxiety.

Lower Life Expectancy

Improperly nourished animals generally lead shorter lives than their healthy counterparts, as the issues associated with poor nutrition, such as disease, impair basic physiological functions.

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