Obesity In Dogs

Obesity in humans has become a global problem and unfortunately, it appears as though this issue has transferred through to dogs as well. The studies released by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention make for disturbing reading and in 2009 it was reported that an estimated 45% of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese. Just like in humans, obesity can cause severe health problems and for this reason it is vital that owners work hard to manage their dog’s weight.

When it comes to similarities in the physiology of humans and dogs, a lot of the time there are huge differences. However, when it comes down to the problems associated with obesity, dogs suffer the same and the list of issues can be very similar to what that of a human can suffer. Issues such as cardiac disease, diabetes, joint problems, high blood pressure and even cancer can all be caused through a dog being obese. Of course, all of these issues are very serious and can lead to a reduction of the dog’s life span. Bearing this in mind, it is absolutely crucial that a pet owner pays close attention to their dog’s weight.

The causes of obesity are fairly common knowledge, with a lack of exercise and poor diet being the two main problems. All dog breeds require daily exercise whether this be in the form of a daily walk or just a run in the yard. Should they not receive this then the chances of weight gain increase dramatically. Arguably the most common reason for obesity in dogs is their diet, though. Most of the time owners appreciate that their canine friend needs plenty of exercise but can then neglect their diet. This is usually done completely innocently and while the dog’s meals can be absolutely perfect, some owners tend to go a little overboard with treats. Dogs can be persuading animals and one innocent glance can prompt an owner into offering a treat – which in time will result in the pet becoming overweight. There are certain other issues, such as hormonal disorders that can also cause obesity, but general research has concluded that a lack of exercise and poor diet are the two main contributors. An owner should contact their veterinarian immediately should they believe that these are not the primary reasons for their dog’s weight gain.

When we discuss symptoms for obesity, some will believe that they are fairly obvious and an overweight dog will be easy to spot. However, as an owner this may not be true and it can be hard to notice a difference in a dog’s weight if they are seen every day. Other more obvious signs to owners could be laziness and tiredness, while the dog’s regular checkups with a veterinarian will also give details regarding their weight. There are also various checks that can be performed that range from feeling around the dog’s ribcage to looking at the dog from above or the side. The ribcage technique seems to be the most popular amongst owners and is very easy to perform. The basis is if the ribs cannot be felt by gently pressing them, there is a very good chance that the dog is either overweight or obese.

Whether or not a dog is obese, weight management should always be taken seriously. Every owner should research the appropriate weight that their breed should have and devise their diet and exercise accordingly. The diet could be adjusted through research into the calories that dogs require and some experts have put together plans that list how many calories should be consumed for each different size of dog. The other option, which is the most recommended albeit slightly more expensive, is to contact a veterinarian who will be more than happy to liaise and organise a weight management programme. Whichever option is chosen, if a dog is overweight it is thoroughly recommended to frequently weigh them and track their progress.

To conclude, it’s clear that the issue of obesity in dogs is just as serious as it is in humans. However, it is the owner who decides how to manage this problem and the dog’s will power is not brought into question. Instead, most of the time it will actually be the will power of the owner and their ability not to give into temptation to give extra treats to their pets. Of course, this isn’t the only cause of obesity and as discussed above, there are many areas which can improve a dog’s weight. If finances allow and an owner is concerned, then we believe a visit to the veterinarian is the best course of action. From there, a weight management programme can be designed and the dog can shed the pounds.

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