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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.
Photo by Benjamin Ilchmann on Unsplash
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Being overweight may induce digestive disorders in dogs (constipation, flatulence), which are unpleasant for both the canines and their owners.
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.
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.
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.
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