Explore the health risks associated with obesity in dogs and offer some useful tips for improving your dog’s health and wellbeing.
According to a study conducted by Sydney University in 2005, around 40% of Australian dogs are carrying too much weight. Although there are medical reasons for weight gain in dogs, most overweight animals just eat more calories than they use up.
A 2010 survey of Victorian veterinarians revealed that, in their view, only 3% of obese dogs had a health condition that contributed to their excess weight. Such conditions include Cushing’s Disease and hypothyroidism. This means that the remaining 97% of overweight canines were overweight because of how their owner looked after them – too much food, too many treats and not enough exercise.
Contrary to popular belief, desexing doesn’t make your dog fat, but it may change his metabolism so he doesn’t need as many calories. Desexing is also usually done at around 6 months of age, when his growth rate is levelling out and his energy needs are reducing.
Your overweight dog is at risk of a number of conditions that can make life less than enjoyable for him.
Even if your dog doesn’t suffer from any of these conditions, it has been shown that if his food intake is restricted throughout his life, he is likely to live longer.
It’s not always easy to look at your dog and get a good idea of his body condition. Some dogs have thick coats that make it hard to see what’s underneath. This is why you need to use your hands as well as your eyes to tell if your dog is carrying too much weight.
Look at your dog from the side and from above. You should see an obvious waistline just after his ribs. If it isn’t there, if your dog’s body is essentially rectangular, then he needs to lose weight.
Move your hands over your dog’s chest and feel his ribs. If you can find them fairly easily, this indicates that he is in good condition. If you can’t feel his ribs at all, then there is work to be done.
Your dog’s obesity is most likely to be because he is eating too much and not exercising enough, so it should be fairly easy to help him lose the excess weight. Just feed him less and walk him more, right… It’s easier said than done.
Here are some suggestions to guide you in dieting your dog.
Obesity is a preventable condition that has many adverse effects on your dog’s health. If your canine best friend is carrying a few extra kilos, put him on a diet. He’ll enjoy a better quality of life, for longer.