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Dog Obesity: The Facts


The facts on dog obesity

 What are we treating our dogs? Infographic

Pet obesity is set to reach epidemic levels in the coming years, with worryingly around 45% of dogs in the UK being classified as overweight according to vets.

Obesity in dogs can actually reduce life expectancy by up to a staggering two years, as well as compromising quality of life through a myriad of related health problems.



Obesity leads to an increase in insulin secretion from the pancreas in response to raised blood sugar levels in overweight dogs. When the need for insulin exceeds the body’s capability of producing it, diabetes can develop characterised by increased thirst, frequent urination, increased hunger and weight loss. Diet, alongside exercise form the foundations of diabetic care.



Arthritis can be a significant cause of pain, with the level of discomfort and disability often being underestimated. Obesity directly contributes to an increase in wear and tear of the joints, speeding the progression of the condition. Overloaded joints will become worn out and painful much sooner. In fact, just a mere seven-eight percent reduction in body mass can dramatically improve mobility in obese pets. In essence, maintaining your pet at a healthy weight is extremely beneficial for joints and can stave off arthritis and its pain for a considerable amount of time.


Heart disease

Overweight dogs generally have higher resting heart rates and high blood pressure. Weight loss has been shown to dramatically reduce, if not reverse, these effects.


Breathing difficulties

Excess fat needs to be stored somewhere and in obese dogs, this can be inside the rib cage, surrounding the lungs. This can actively prevent the lungs fully expanding, like a tight hug every time they breathe.


Decreased stamina

Carrying excess weight requires greater effort by the body and in turn, uses more energy. An overweight dog can therefore become tired much quicker. They can also be prone to overheating both during the summer and through exercise, as fat is a fantastic insulator.



Whilst the exact link between obesity and cancer is unclear, studies have shown an increased risk of developing certain types of cancer, including urinary bladder and mammary tumours, in dogs who are overweight.

Assessing your pet’s weight on a regular basis is important to prevent obesity. Your vet can help, but an easy guide to checking your dog’s weight is to ensure you can feel and count every rib easily, without being able to see the ribs. Where diet is concerned, don’t guess!

Check pet food package guidelines to ensure you feed the correct amounts each day, but remember guidelines are just that, you may need to tweak amounts to suit your pet’s needs. Importantly be treat aware. Dog specific treats are most aligned with the needs of your pet, but remember to deduct them from the overall daily food allowance, to keep excess calories down. Be careful using human foods  as a treat - dogs convert fat and protein into energy far more efficiently than we do. Switch to healthy treats such as plain popcorn or raw vegetables which are not only low in calories, but high in beneficial nutrients too.

Make any changes to your dog’s feeding regime gradually. Remember a dog will be overweight if there is an imbalance between the amount of calories taken in and the exercise used to burn them off each day. A gradual increase in the amount of daily exercise by ten minutes every five days will be extremely beneficial, as will a reduction in overall calorie intake.

Switching out energy dense treats as well as reducing your dog’s main meal size will help. A teaspoon taken out each week is enough to make a difference over time, whilst being such a small amount it will go practically unnoticed by your pet.

It is up to us to make healthy choices on our pets’ behalf and this can be much easier than you may think.

Source Details

 Mole Valley Farmers Newsletter 632

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