Canine Obesity - Reducing the weight of Your Dog
Dog obesity is a growing concern as vets are seeing more and more overweight
dogs than ever before.
As in humans, dog
obesity is dangerous and can shorten the dog's lifespan. Dog Obesity can cause
strokes, liver, kidney and heart disease, diabetes, hip dysplasia, arthritis,
pain and a massively reduced quality of life.
Carrying excess weight puts
extra demands on the whole canine body structure. Dogs are considered to be
obese when they weigh more than 15% over their ideal body weight according to
their breed type. The health risks to an overweight dog are serious and can be
life-threatening. Common medical conditions arising from obesity are:
- Diabetes: Obesity causes an
increase in the production of insulin as a response to glucose levels in the
- Joint, bone and ligament problems: One quarter of overweight dogs develop serious joint and
bone disease. The increased weight load puts extra tension on joints which in
turn damages the surrounding ligaments.
- High blood pressure: Obese
dogs have an increased blood pressure (hypertension) which puts a strain on the
heart as it pumps harder to increase blood supply to the extra fat tissue. Often
this leads to heart attacks that can be fatal to dogs of any age.
- Respiratory problems: The
lungs of overweight dogs do not function properly. The extra fat in the chest
area restricts the expansion of the lungs.
- Hepatic Lipidosis: This is
a condition that occurs as a direct result of fat build up in the
- Osteoarthritis: Obesity can
aggravate osteoarthritis which commonly occurs in the weight-bearing joints.
Losing excess weight can help to prevent osteoarthritis or decrease the rate of
- Various Cancers: Research
has shown that a dog that is fit and well exercised has a strengthened immunity
to cancer and other chronic diseases. Vigorous use of the muscles stimulates all
tissues and increases blood circulation. This in turn cleans the cells of toxins
that may cause cancer.
- In general: Obese dogs have
a lower resistance to infection, impaired energy levels, increased skin
problems, lethargy and more behavioural problems.
People are less active today than
before, with television and computer games replacing exercise and the great
outdoors. This combined with the growing popularity of fast food have
contributed to a rapid rise in the number of people that are medically obese in
the United Kingdom and worldwide.
With the increase in obese people comes
an increase in obese pets, especially overweight dogs. The couch potato sat
watching television whilst eating mountains of junk food is not likely to be
taking the dog for long romps in the countryside or playing ball in the local
A dog's activity level plays a major role in determining its
caloric needs. It doesn't take a degree in rocket science to accept that the dog
lying snoozing in its bed, occasionally munching on left-over pizza and chips
will not need as many calories per day as a vibrant, healthy working dog or a
dog that gets adequate off-lead exercise.
To see if your dog is obese
check for the following:
- While placing your thumbs on the dog's backbone spread
your fingers over the ribcage. By applying a slight pressure you should be able
to feel each rib. If the ribs noticeably protrude then the dog is too thin.
- Look at the dog from side on. The underneath line should
curve upwards behind the ribcage. The angle and depth of this tuck depends on
the breed of dog.
- Stand over the dog and view it from above. You should be
able to see a clearly-defined waist.
This article was published on
Tuesday, June 01, 2010