An extra treat here and a table scrap there won’t do much harm, right? Actually, those daily “little” rewards you give your dog can cause serious weight gain which, in turn, can cause lasting damage to her or his bones, joints, and internal organs.
The good news is that obesity is the most preventable disease in dogs. You can help your pup shed the excess pounds and improve its quality of life, increase their energy, and prevent some diseases and inflammation.
Is My Dog Obese?
It’s not as obvious as you’d think, mostly because, just like humans, a dog’s weight usually slowly creeps up. You might not even notice it until you see older pictures featuring a more svelte shape. Sound familiar? Here’s how to quickly assess if your dog’s weight is a healthy one:
- An ideal weight is one where the outline of the ribs can be seen and felt. In most breeds, the belly, when viewed from the side, tucks up. From above, there’s a visible waist.
- A dog is considered overweight when a slight waist can be viewed from above, but the ribs are covered by excess fat.
- There are 3 stages of obesity:
- 15-30% over ideal weight
- 30-45% over ideal weight
- And more than 45% over ideal weight, which is considered severely obese. The waist has typically disappeared when viewed from above. There are fat deposits on the back and base of the tail, and the belly has fallen. With severe obesity, the belly appears rounded.
The top five breeds susceptible to obesity are Labs, Shelties, Dachshunds, Golden Retrievers, and Pugs.
The Effects of Dog Obesity
Here’s a brief overview of the risk factors for dog obesity:
- Extra weight puts pressure on your dog’s joints, causing the cartilage to deteriorate, which leads to arthritis.
- Heart disease and high blood pressure.
- Because they have trouble expanding their chests, overweight dogs have more breathing conditions and their lungs must work harder during anesthesia.
- Extra skin folds can cause irritation and bacterial infection.
- The anterior cruciate ligament can tear, which results in knee surgery.
One of the worst effects of obesity is that it can shorten your dog’s life by up to two years! That’s two years you miss out on sharing your life with your treasured pet.