Pet obesity is the correct term for the nutritional disease. Pet obesity is defined by having an excess of body fat. Dogs that are overfed, are not exercised or, are able to gain weight easily, are at more of a risk to becoming overweight. Whilst you might think they look cute with their little rolls of excess fur, it can actually be very dangerous to the future health and happiness. Believe it or not, dogs that are obese are not as happy as they should be.
Dogs need constant exercise and stimulation to be healthy and happy. You should never neglect your dog’s health and feeding them the wrong diet is a form of neglect and not caring for their health.
Dog obesity can have a serious effect on the dog’s overall health. If not treated correctly it can significantly reduce the dog’s lifespan, this is even if your dog is slightly obese. Overweight dogs tend to have problems with their joints and bones, from the pressure of the excess fat. It can also have a profound effect on their organs and respiratory system.
Obesity can be an issue within all dog breeds and dogs of all ages. Normally it does occur when the dog becomes middle aged and in dog breeds that are in the age range of 5-10 years old. Indoor and neutered dogs also have more of a risk of becoming overweight.
Symptoms of obesity in dogs:
- Excess of body fat
- Increase in weight gain
- Not wanting to exercise or struggling to exercise
What are the causes?
Dog obesity has many causes but is most common when the dog receives an imbalance of food intake and exercise - meaning if the dog is fed too much and receives hardly any exercise and stimulation, then the dog is more likely to become obese. Dog obesity can also become an issue as the dog ages and is unable to exercise as well as it used to it its younger days. Unhealthy food in taking, feeding them human food, too many treats can also contribute to this condition. As tempting as it is to feed them your left-over dinner, you should avoid this as this doesn't form part of a healthy well-balanced diet suitable for a dog.
There are other causes which can contribute to dogs becoming obese. Of causes include the following:
Diagnosing obesity in dogs is often done by measuring the dog's weight and scoring it against its body condition. Your vet can carry out this procedure if you are unsure. They will examine the dog’s ribs, tail, head and its lumbar area. The results found are then compared to the dog breed standard.
If your dog is showing signs of obesity, then it will have an excess of body weight around 10-15%. Dogs that have a body condition which is higher are generally considered to be obese.
Treating obesity is primarily focused on weight loss and maintaining this over a long period of time, with help and guidance from your vet. Your vet will put together a specific diet plan for your dog that will indicate their daily calorie intake along with how much exercise they should have. They may also recommend changing your dog’s diet to a healthier balanced diet.
Normally, diets that are high in fiber and protein, but low in fat are recommended to help your dog lose weight in the correct way. A diet of this nature will help stimulate their metabolism and give them more energy for exercise. Your dog will also become full and have less desire to eat any more than what is necessary.
Combining an improved diet along with the correct amount of physical exercise will enable you to combat their obesity safely and successfully. As a minimum, your dog should receive 15 minutes’ worth of exercise, twice a day. They should also play games such as fetch and ball to stimulate and engage their brain activity.
Maintaining the diet and exercise plan
Following any treatment plan for dog, obesity requires regular contact with your veterinary practice. They will need to monitor and weigh your dog over a period of time to ensure that they're being fed correctly and losing weight in the correct, safe way. With the commitment from both you and your veterinary practice, you can help your dog reach its ideal weight and body condition and bring your dog back to better health and feeling at its best.