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The Dangers of Dog Obesity
There is an epidemic of obesity in the United States and it is not just in humans. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) found that approximately 54 percent of dogs are overweight. Obesity in dogs can sneak up on a dog owner pretty quickly because dogs can hide it well, at first. Obesity has actually creeped its way to the number one health risk for dogs and is starting to show up earlier in a dog’s life, where it used to be more prevalent in older dogs, obesity is beginning earlier. When obesity begins earlier in life the risks are greater and the chances of conquering the problem decrease dramatically. A dog who is overweight at a young age will be less active the older he becomes therefore, increasing the problem even further.
If you would like to do a quick check to tell if your pet is overweight follow these steps:
- Does his stomach sag?
- Is his back flat and not rounded?
- Can you see his waist?
- Is it difficult to feel his ribs?
If you answered yes to any of these questions then there is a good chance your dog is obese.
Call It What It Is
We often forget that obesity is a disease, it’s not just a concern. Therefore, it must not be ignored or overlooked. If you fear your dog has gained weight, you should act swiftly and talk to your veterinarian about the possibility of a diet and exercise program. You should know your dog better than anyone else and if you think he’s gaining weight and you have ruled out all other health concerns that might cause him to gain weight then it is time for you to take action. There isn’t really a quick fix or a quick cure for obesity and there certainly isn’t a magic pill. Just like in humans, obesity takes time and a lot of hard work to overcome.
The first and most important reason to stay on top of your dog’s weight is because of the diseases associated with obesity. Heart disease is at the top of this list and is usually caught too late. Arthritis and diabetes can also be the result of obesity. A dog that is just a little overweight can be at an increased risk of arthritis. A dog’s joints just were not created to hold any extra weight.
Quality of Life
When a dog is allowed to become overweight his quality of life is negatively impacted. Overweight dogs are more prone to depression and can become angry and aggressive due to their increased pain and from merely being uncomfortable. We tend to make excuses for our dogs when they become overweight, like he acts like he’s starving or he just can’t get enough. Most dogs that are obese really have no control over their eating, that is why they depend on us to know what they need and to give them the appropriate amount of exercise and food in order to increase their quality of life, not to decrease it.
Decreased Life Expectancy
Numerous studies have proven that there are links between obesity and decreased life expectancy. To put it bluntly, obesity kills. Dogs age faster than humans and their bodies react to disease and illness quicker and more intensely than a human body.
There is more than one reason for obesity in dogs. The most common reason is overfeeding and then under exercising. Here is a chart from the APOP to help you figure out approximately how many calories your dog needs in a day. It might come as quite a shock that they need far less than we do! The busier we Americans become, the more neglectful we get of our pets. It is not enough to just feed your dog and let him run a little, he needs regular exercise just like we do. The sad part is that dog owners often don’t even realize their dogs are overweight. It is important to educate yourself about the needs of the breed of dog that you own. Different breeds have different safe weight ranges and different calorie requirements. It is important to pay attention to the details and instructions that your veterinarian gives you. Somewhere along the way we have been made to believe that a fat dog is a healthy dog and we need to educate ourselves on healthy weight.