Obesity and the effects

Obesity is an issue which can cause serious health problems for dogs, and unfortunately it’s rather common to find dogs becoming overweight as a result of over-feeding or having an unbalanced diet. There are a number of effects that excess fat can have on an animal’s body, particularly around the heart, joints, breathing and digestive system, and longterm obesity can seriously impact a dog’s quality of life.

Obesity can make dogs less willing to be active and playful, which not only increases the chances of them becoming more overweight but also deprives them of what is a very natural, fun activity for most dogs! It can create suffering if breathing and walking becomes difficult, and can result in a shorter lifespan.

Obesity is common in dogs, but can be tackled with a good nutrition plan and a lot of willpower!

Causes

The main cause of obesity can best be described as an imbalance between the energy a dog consumes (through its food) and the amount that it uses (through exercise). This means that even if a dog is eating the right amount for their age and breed, they’ll normally still gain weight if they’re not getting enough exercise - the same as humans!

This might be due to old age, when dogs naturally become less active and therefore need less food, or it might be down to the owner’s feeding and exercise habits. Specific illnesses can also cause weight gain, so it’s always worth checking with your vet to make sure there are no underlying problems.

Signs of obesity
  • Weight gain, which can be easily measured with weekly weigh-ins.
  • Excess body fat, particularly around the stomach and neck.
  • Inability to exercise, or simply unwillingness. It may be that your dog finds it too tiring, or they may find it uncomfortable to move around.
Diagnosis

A vet will determine whether or not a dog is obese by measuring their body weight, although they may also use a “body condition” score, which takes into account a number of factors including weight and the body composition of that breed. They’ll examine the dog’s head, ribs, lumbar region, abdomen and tail, then compare them to the standard measurements for the breed.

If a dog has an excess weight of around 10-15 per cent of the standard, or their body condition score is greater than seven out of nine points, they will be diagnosed as obese.

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