Written by 6:02 pm Health & Care

Obesity in Dogs

Learn about the causes and health risks associated with obesity in dogs, as well as tips on how to …
fat labrador dog on the floor, 8 years old
fat labrador dog on the floor, 8 years old.

What is obesity?

Obesity is defined as being at least 20% above the ideal weight for a given species. For most dogs, this means being more than 15 percent overweight. Obesity can have serious health consequences for dogs, just as it does for humans. For example, obese dogs are much more likely to develop arthritis.

These conditions are common in obese dogs:

There are many other medical reasons why an owner might choose to put an obese pet on a diet. These include cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, urinary incontinence and reproductive problems.

The excess weight puts stress on your dog’s bones and joints which can lead to osteoarthritis (OA), the most common form of arthritis in older dogs.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in older dogs. It develops gradually over time, beginning with a breakdown in cartilage. This results in inflammation and pain. Overweight dogs are much more likely to develop osteoarthritis than smaller dogs because they put even more weight on their joints which speeds up the damage done to their bones.

“Obesity is also linked with heart disease, respiratory diseases, diabetes mellitus, urinary incontinence and reproductive problems.”

The main ways that obesity in dogs is caused are:

A giant dog breed, such as a Great Dane or Newfoundland, will have the same proportional weight requirements as other dogs. But because of their size, they have to eat more food. In other words, it’s easy for them to gain excess pounds fast.

In contrast, small breeds that eat the same amount as larger breeds will not get obese unless they’re fed from one of those fad diets available at pet stores.

In general, overweight and obese dogs tend to be overfed by owners who either don’t recognize obesity in their pets or who don’t think it’s a problem. The owner may see an animal eating voraciously and think nothing of it because she doesn’t realize how much stronger her pet has gotten.

It is important to consider the genetic links to obesity. Obesity tends to run in families, and certain breeds are more likely than others to become obese, including beagles, dachshunds, Labrador retrievers and basset hounds. Large-breed dogs that mature slowly also tend to be genetically predisposed toward obesity.

Physical activity influences both the amount of food an animal eats and how much energy it burns up. Dogs need exercise for optimal health; even short walks can help your dog burn calories. The amount of food your pet requires should be measured by their level of physical activity rather than by their weight.

Obesity in dogs is a serious health problem.

It is not only the excess weight that makes them more susceptible to disease and early death; it’s also how they carry the extra pounds. Overweight dogs typically have as much as 50% of their body weight resting on their “armpits.” This causes pain and even arthritis in those limbs.

Many owners don’t recognize obesity in their pets or don’t think it’s a problem. The owner might see an animal eating voraciously and think no harm done because she doesn’t realize how strong her pet has gotten. Also, it can be difficult to know what constitutes normal activity levels because some dogs are very active while others are couch potatoes. However, you should consider the genetic links to obesity in dogs. Obesity tends to run in families and certain breeds are more likely than others to become obese (e.g., beagles, dachshunds, Labrador retrievers and basset hounds).

Also, even if you feed your pet the same amount of food it needs less when it is not very active.

When considering obesity in dogs, it is important to take into account that genetics play a role in obesity, particularly with large-breed or giant dogs that may mature slowly. You need to measure how much food he consumes by his activity level rather than by his weight; however, this can be difficult because some dogs are more active than others.

Solution:

If you think your pet is overweight, consult with your veterinarian. Your vet can determine whether he or she is at a healthy weight and the best way to get to that point. Weight-loss diets for dogs are not simply “calories in, calories out.” Rather, they involve figuring out what foods help the dog lose pounds while maintaining muscle mass and bone density and keeping their insulin and thyroid levels stable. As an added benefit, many weight-loss diets for dogs may also lessen the pain associated with osteoarthritis.

Obesity in dogs is often related to diet more than anything else. It’s important to consult with your vet before trying any new diet or exercise program because there are special considerations when helping an obese dog lose weight. Your dog may benefit from a certain type of diet that will help them shed pounds while maintaining muscle mass and protecting their bones and joints.

Remember, even if you think your puppy is at the right weight, it’s important to monitor him for obesity because some dogs hide their weight problems very well. If you think your pet may be obese, consult with your veterinarian!

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