The Growing Problem of Dog Obesity
Obesity is on the increase with around 2.5 million dogs reported as being overweight, which has dangerous consequences for their health. These worrying statistics point to a case of dog owners literally killing their faithful canines with kindness.
In humans, obesity is defined as an excess of body fat that if left unchecked, leads to a range of serious conditions including heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis and strokes. The same applies to dogs.
We also know that excess weight gain shortens life expectancy and again, it’s the same for dogs. Like humans, the risk of obesity increases with age with older females affected more than males. In addition, there are certain breeds that have a disposition towards weight gain.
Neutered dogs are at greater risk of obesity.
Veterinary practices are seeing greater numbers of chubby canines, which is usually a result of their owners feeding them fatty, calorie-laden treats. Some owners even feed their dogs on the same diet as themselves, for example, takeaways, pizzas and chips.
An added complication is the fact that many owners appear to be in denial about their dog’s weight problems, choosing to see them as ‘cuddly’ and ‘easier to hug’ instead. Yet the reality is a fat, waddling, out of breath pooch that is unlikely to live out their full term.
Vets often see an obese pet accompanied by an obese owner. Enough said.
Overweight or obese dog?
There is a difference between the two. If a dog has a discernable layer of fat over their ribs and their waistline is difficult to see then they are classed as being overweight.
A dog with a thick layer of fat over their ribs, no sign of their waistline and a bulging stomach is defined as obese.
Fighting the flab
As with humans, obesity in dogs occurs when the number of calories consumed is greater than those expended. This is preventable. Dog owners need to adopt the following weight loss measures:
- Cut out treats/titbits
- Increase exercise, e.g. more walks (Consider using a dog-walker )
- Change to healthier, low calorie dog food
- Monitor the dog’s weight/physical condition
Owners should do this gradually over a long period. Avoid ‘crash dieting’ that is harmful to the dog and aim to reduce their calorie intake by around 15%,
If you think your dog is carrying some extra timber then ask your vet for advice before proceeding with a weight loss routine.