Dangers of an Overweight Dog


Imagine coming across a picture of a fat dog online. Analysing the picture, you might think, “Dogs are not meant to be overweight …” or “Surely, pets being fat, even rotund, is unacceptable?” 

The alarming fact is: pet obesity is actually on the rise and has been for numerous years. Obesity is detrimental to the health of the pets inflicted by this condition. 

In this article, we will explore the dangers that obesity in dogs entail. 

dangers of overweight dog

Photo by Benjamin Ilchmann on Unsplash 

Risks of dog obesity                            

There are numerous risks involved when a pet dog is overweight or obese. 

Dog obesity can be treated with the right dietary, weight loss and weight management plans. However, a study on the efficacy of a weight loss intervention in obese pet dogs revealed that the dogs were only successful at losing weight 63% of the time.

Thus, a weight loss plan does help an overweight dog to shed the excess weight, but the benefits of preventing obesity in the first place outweigh the struggles of curing it.

Dog owners can map out the best weight loss and management plans for their hefty canines in consultation with the veterinarian. To learn more about effective weight loss and weight management, see Dog Weight Loss - Diet Plan for Overweight Dogs.

The following are some dog obesity risks that can and should be avoided:

Diminished quality of life

Did you know that an overweight dog is an unhappy one? One study found that obesity had emotional consequences for pets.

In the study, the overweight pets that were surveyed scored worse for quality of life, pain and emotional disturbance, and vitality.

This essentially means it is likely that these pets did not lead active, enjoyable and pain-free lives. Instead, what they did experience was a lot of unnecessary pain and suffering.

Health risks 

Obesity in dogs can cause health risks; some of which are remediable while some are not. Diseases stemming from dog obesity include: 


Dogs can become diabetic when overweight.

Dog owners no doubt love their pets. However, when they inadvertently overfeed their dogs or feed them too much high calorie dog food, this leads to a higher glucose level in the dogs’ blood. 

Subsequently, this increases the dogs’ production of insulin in the pancreas — the hormone which signals to cells the need to grab glucose out of the bloodstream and burn it as fuel. 

If the demand for insulin continues over a long time, the pancreas fails to keep up and may eventually stop functioning. The lack of insulin then results in diabetes for the dogs, which is both irreversible and long term. 

The diabetic dogs will need daily shots to replace the missing insulin. Read more on the symptoms of diabetes in dogs.

Increased blood pressure

High blood pressure is common in overweight people. Similarly, dogs that go over their ideal weight are susceptible to this disease.

Canine high blood pressure is brought on by the narrowing of veins which then causes a restriction on the flow of blood.

The overweight dog’s heart, thus, has to work harder to pump blood throughout its body. This kind of strain may eventually lead to heart failure, which can be fatal for the dog.

Respiratory diseases

When a dog is overweight or obese, the excess weight puts a strain on its body, including its respiratory system. The dog’s lungs have to work twice as hard to supply oxygen.

obese dog

Photo by Isabela Kronemberger on Unsplash 

Overweight dogs are also more prone to a collapsing trachea and laryngeal paralysis — a serious condition affecting the larynx in a dog’s throat that causes breathing difficulties.

Damage to bones, joints and ligaments

An overweight dog’s surplus weight is likely to put pressure on its skeletal frame. In this case, the dog’s skeletal frame is subject to more load or stress than it is designed to support.

This is evident for dogs categorised as ‘obese’ in the dog weight chart, where their frames support tremendous weight. The weight is caused by the thick and prominent layer of fat covering their bodies due to obesity. You can refer to the dog weight chart for more details at How to Help an Underweight Dog Gain Weight.   

This prolonged strain puts overweight and obese dogs at a higher risk of joint damage. In fact, studies have shown that 25% of overweight dogs end up suffering from serious joint complications. 

Osteoarthritis — a painful joint disease which causes stiffness of the joints — is just one of such complications. For dogs that need more joint support, a supplement exclusively for the joints like Petcubes Wholistic Run Free may help.

Digestive disorders

Being overweight may induce digestive disorders in dogs (constipation, flatulence), which are unpleasant for both the canines and their owners.  

Skin diseases

Dogs that are overweight tend to have extra skin folds. This may attract bacterial infections, leading to skin irritation and redness, scratching and body odour.

Shortened life expectancy

Overweight or obese dogs have a decreased lifespan by as much as 2 to 2.5 years. This means that they will not be able to live as long as other dogs with optimum weight. 

Additionally, overweight dogs face a higher risk of sudden death.

Costly veterinary bills

Although costly veterinary care and bills affect the dog owner more than the dog, it is the poor canine that has to endure all the needed treatment — some of which will be needed for the rest of its lifespan.   

Final words

The most important thing as a dog owner is to understand why a pet dog has gained weight or become overweight — learn more here: Is My Dog Overweight?. That way, the exact contributing factors of the dog’s weight problems can be addressed and the dog can make a proper recovery.