Why is obesity a problem in dogs?
There is a range of health problems associated with obesity in dogs, the most significant of which are:
- Joint disease – obesity increases the stress on joints. It predisposes them to ligament rupture (cruciate disease) and arthritis. Once those conditions occur, it can be really tricky to get dogs to lose weight because they find it painful to exercise.
- Heart and Breathing problems – fat deposits in the chest and around the airways can restrict breathing. This is a particular problem in dogs which already have breathing problems such as those with short noses or diseases like bronchitis. Increased blood pressure in obese dogs can also be a problem.
- Hormonal disease – obesity causes the body to become resistant to the effects of the hormone insulin. This can complicate (or some believe contribute to causing) diabetes in dogs. Other hormonal diseases (e.g. hypothyroidism) can be the cause of obesity.
- Incontinence – a common problem in older, speyed bitches. Obesity can make their problem worse.
- Cancer – is more common in obese dogs
- Shorter lifespan – In one long experiment, Labradors kept lean throughout their lives lived 2 years longer on average than Labradors which were allowed to eat to the point of obesity.
The good news is that slimming down your dog can reverse most of these ill effects. Lots of owners who put in the time and willpower needed to slim their dogs find it very rewarding and their pets are much perkier afterwards!
If you are concerned about your dog’s weight, seek advice from your vet or veterinary nurse. There is also a link to some sensible advice about how to achieve weight loss in dogs on the links page.
You can find a link to a free-to-view review about the clinical aspects of canine obesity by Dr Alex German on the links page.