The Dangers of Dog Obesity
Did you know that 56% of dogs in the U.S. are classified as obese or overweight? Many pet parents don’t realize their pet is overweight, or they ignore the problem until it becomes a critical issue. Obesity in dogs is a major health threat. Not only can it decrease a dog’s lifespan, but its also linked to arthritis, kidney disease, bladder disease, liver disease, diabetes, heart failure, high blood pressure, and cancer.
It is very important for pet owners to be aware of the dangers of dog obesity. So, we have gathered information to help you keep your four-legged companion have a long and healthy life.
The Facts of Dog Obesity
There is no universally accepted definition of obese for pets. But, veterinary experts say being the slightest bit overweight impacts pet health. That’s one of the biggest challenges in addressing this issue — many pet parents may not realize there is an issue.
It’s normal to think of our pet’s weight in human terms, but that is not correct. Dr. Ernie Ward, DVM, CVFT, and founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention said, “the amount of physiological impact of a few pounds is much, much greater and more concentrated in pets than in people. Five pounds on a cat is catastrophic. Five pounds on a lab is significant.” You may think a few pounds off your Lab may be good for him. But in reality, the consequences are that Lab’s hips are deteriorating, it’s causing damage to the kidneys, it’s probably causing high blood pressure which is causing more problems, and it’s increasing cancer risk.
Dr. Carol Osborne, an integrative vet at Chagrin Falls Pet Clinic, emphasizes the fact that a dog doesn’t have to be clinically obese to experience health consequences. She says, being just 10% overweight decreases a dog’s lifespan by one-third.
Osborne says that fat tissue is filled with blood vessels, and the added rich blood created inflammation. This creates an environment attractive to cancer cells and increases a dog’s risk of developing the disease.
“Cancer is the number one killer of dogs today,” says Osborne.
For smaller breeds, extra pounds can make a huge difference. Three extra pounds for ‘toy’ canines is equivalent of gaining approximately 30 pounds for a human.
Overweight dogs experience health effects like reduced energy with resultant less exercise, gains weight on small amounts of food, skin and hair conditions, and irregular female reproductive cycles.
Food Matters Most
Many vets agree that weight loss begins and ends at the food bowl. Knowing exactly how much to feed your dog becomes key. Like many experts, Ward cautions against using the guidelines on commercial dry dog food packages to determine how much you’re feeding. It’s a good idea to talk to your vet to figure out how many calories you should be feeding.
Osborne recommends fresh food including lean protein like chicken, turkey, fish, eggs and tofu. Also important to includes fiber through fresh vegetables like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage and spinach.
While food is the biggest factor, pet parents should also plan to exercise their dogs for at least 20 minutes, twice a day.
We hope this information is beneficial to you and your dog’s healthy life together. If you have any tips on keeping your pup fit, we would love to hear from you!