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Canine Obesity - Reducing the weight of Your Dog
by K9Obedience

Dog obesity is a growing concern as vets are seeing more and more overweight dogs than ever before.

As in humans, dog obesity is dangerous and can shorten the dog's lifespan. Dog Obesity can cause strokes, liver, kidney and heart disease, diabetes, hip dysplasia, arthritis, pain and a massively reduced quality of life.

Carrying excess weight puts extra demands on the whole canine body structure. Dogs are considered to be obese when they weigh more than 15% over their ideal body weight according to their breed type. The health risks to an overweight dog are serious and can be life-threatening. Common medical conditions arising from obesity are:

  • Diabetes: Obesity causes an increase in the production of insulin as a response to glucose levels in the blood.
  • Joint, bone and ligament problems: One quarter of overweight dogs develop serious joint and bone disease. The increased weight load puts extra tension on joints which in turn damages the surrounding ligaments.
  • High blood pressure: Obese dogs have an increased blood pressure (hypertension) which puts a strain on the heart as it pumps harder to increase blood supply to the extra fat tissue. Often this leads to heart attacks that can be fatal to dogs of any age.
  • Respiratory problems: The lungs of overweight dogs do not function properly. The extra fat in the chest area restricts the expansion of the lungs.
  • Hepatic Lipidosis: This is a condition that occurs as a direct result of fat build up in the liver.
  • Osteoarthritis: Obesity can aggravate osteoarthritis which commonly occurs in the weight-bearing joints. Losing excess weight can help to prevent osteoarthritis or decrease the rate of progression.
  • Various Cancers: Research has shown that a dog that is fit and well exercised has a strengthened immunity to cancer and other chronic diseases. Vigorous use of the muscles stimulates all tissues and increases blood circulation. This in turn cleans the cells of toxins that may cause cancer.
  • In general: Obese dogs have a lower resistance to infection, impaired energy levels, increased skin problems, lethargy and more behavioural problems.

People are less active today than before, with television and computer games replacing exercise and the great outdoors. This combined with the growing popularity of fast food have contributed to a rapid rise in the number of people that are medically obese in the United Kingdom and worldwide.

With the increase in obese people comes an increase in obese pets, especially overweight dogs. The couch potato sat watching television whilst eating mountains of junk food is not likely to be taking the dog for long romps in the countryside or playing ball in the local park.

A dog's activity level plays a major role in determining its caloric needs. It doesn't take a degree in rocket science to accept that the dog lying snoozing in its bed, occasionally munching on left-over pizza and chips will not need as many calories per day as a vibrant, healthy working dog or a dog that gets adequate off-lead exercise.

To see if your dog is obese check for the following:
  • While placing your thumbs on the dog's backbone spread your fingers over the ribcage. By applying a slight pressure you should be able to feel each rib. If the ribs noticeably protrude then the dog is too thin.
  • Look at the dog from side on. The underneath line should curve upwards behind the ribcage. The angle and depth of this tuck depends on the breed of dog.
  • Stand over the dog and view it from above. You should be able to see a clearly-defined waist.

This article was published on Thursday 01 July, 2010.

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