"Obese pets have more physical ailments and a shorter lifespan than those of normal weight. Obesity increases risk during surgery, and breathing and walking are more difficult for the obese pet. "
- Arthritis and Other Joint Disorders
- Heart Disease
- High Blood Pressure
- Respiratory Conditions
- Heat or Exercise Intolerance
- Skin Problems
- Increased surgical and anesthetic risks
Contributing Factors to ObesityAn independent study by Purina demonstrated that dogs that had their food intake restricted and were kept at an ideal weight throughout their lives had a median lifespan 15% greater than those dogs fed free choice.
- Feeding Habits: Much of the rise in canine obesity can be blamed on feeding habits – namely giving your dog access to a bowl of dog food 24/7. (It’s known as “free choice” in some professional circles.) Overfeeding at select meal times can be just as bad. High-calorie treats and table snacks only add to the problem.
- Lack of Exercise: The formula for eating vs. exercise is pretty straightforward: When your furry friend takes in more calories than he or she expends, they’re going to put on weight. Many dogs simply aren’t getting enough exercise to compensate for how much they eat.
- Neutering: Being neutered lowers the metabolic rate in dogs, which can lead to extra weight gain if feeding is not adjusted. Even so, the health benefits of spaying or neutering, as well as eliminating behavior disorders related to the mating instinct and unwanted litters, far outweigh the risk of a slower metabolism and potential weight gain. A balanced diet and exercise can help keep your neutered dog from gaining weight.
- Slow Metabolism: Just like you, your dog’s metabolism slows with age. Most dogs start to show that middle-age spread by age 5 or 6. (Any dog overweight at 2 years of age is a sign of real trouble ahead.)
- Breed: Genetics play a role, too. Certain breeds are simply more prone to weight gain, notably beagles, cocker spaniels, collies, shelties, basset hounds, dachshunds and Labrador/golden retrievers.
- Hormonal Disorders: A wide array of hormonal disorders and other ailments also lead to or complicate canine obesity. They range from hypothyroidism to Cushing’s disease (hyperadrenocorticism).
Treating ObesityAll members of the family should be aware of the need for the pet to lose weight, and all should be in agreement before starting dietary control. One person can easily foul up the entire weight- loss program.
- Ask your Veterinarian about diet options
- Feed the appropriate amount
- The safest rate of weight loss for any dog (or mammal for that matter) is generally considered to be between one and two percent of total body weight per week.
- Take a 30 minute walk around your neigborhood.
- Play fetch
- Enroll in doggy daycare activities
- Join an Agility Club