Obesity is a nutritional disease characterised by an excess of body fat. It is common in dogs in the United States with 44% of them being overweight or obese. This is more than 30 million dogs.
It is more common in middle-aged dogs between 5 and 10 years old. Dogs that have been neutered and those that spend most of their lives inside are more prone to obesity.
It can lead to a variety of other health problems. It can result in a shorter life-span even for dogs that are moderately obese.
Symptoms Of Obesity In Dogs
Obesity creeps up on dogs gradually. it is hard to notice small weight gains when you see your dog daily. There are some simple observational tests to help you identify if your dog is becoming overweight. You should be able to feel your dog’s ribs with a light pressure. When viewed from above, your dog should have a distinct hourglass waist.
Other signs of obesity are:
Your dog waddles when he walks. He seems to sway from side to side.
Your dog exhibits a general lethargy. it seems as if he has lost interest in life.
He has an intolerance of exercise.
H has difficulty breathing, noisy breathing or both.
These signs can be symptoms of diseases other than obesity and if you notice them, you should take your dog to the vet.
Causes Of Obesity In Dogs
The causes of obesity can be summed up as the calorific value of his food intake being greater than the calories he is burning.
A major source of excess calories are treats or table scraps between meals. Some commercial dog foods are high in fat and energy dense.
Older dogs and less active dogs will require less calories. Often as a dog becomes older and less active, owners do not adjust their diet to suit their new life-style.
The strong bond that forms between dogs and their owners often leads to the owner over-feeding the dog. Owners give dogs more food than they should as a misguided act of kindness or affection.
Statistically, dogs that live with overweight owners are more likely to become overweight.
Dogs with metabolic disorders such as hypothyroidism are more prone to obesity.
Health Risks Of Obesity
Even a small amount of excess fat can have detrimental health effects for your dog. It can increase your dog’s chances of and early death and has been associated with a number of diseases. These include high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, cardiac disease, respiratory disease and various types of cancer.
It is important that you do your best to maintain your dog’s optimal body weight.
Managing your Dog’s Weight
When you realise your dog is obese, your first step should be a trip to the vet. Your vet will be able to eliminate other causes of the symptoms. He will help you calculate your dog’s optimal weight and discuss a weight management plan with you.
The plan is likely to include more exercise and a reduction of the calorie intake.
Your dog will need to be fed a you high quality diet that is low in fat. You should do your best to ensure the food is still flavorful and enjoyable for your dog.
Small frequent meals are often better than one large daily meal.
Giving your dog table scraps or treats should be avoided. if you find this too difficult, try using some healthy alternatives. Many dogs enjoy raw carrots, green beans or rice cakes.
Getting your dog’s weight under control will be beneficial for you and your dog. Your dog will enjoy a healthy lifestyle and over time, you will save a considerable amount of money which would otherwise have been spent on vet’s bills.