Obesity is a common medical issue. However, this isn’t just a problem for humans – it’s a growing problem for dogs too. According to research gathered by 1,156 pet owners and 574 veterinary professionals surveyed in the Fall of 2018, by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 55.8% of dogs classified as overweight or obese.
What is Canine Obesity?
Obesity is defined as an individual having excess amounts of adipose tissue, also known as fat, stored in the body. Obesity is one of the most common nutritional problems in dogs. It is usually the result of overfeeding, feeding your pet the wrong food, and/or lack of exercise, although there may be certain genetics at work too. Having an obese pet can lead to many health problems, reducing their quality of life, so it is an extremely important issue.
But vets are increasingly reporting that the number of cases of obesity in dogs is growing– why is this the case?
What Causes Obesity in Dogs?
Impact of Human Dietary Changes
As the diet of humans has shifted away from naturally farmed produce to processed food with high levels of fat and salt, the food that is given to dogs has also made this shift. Many owners will allow their pets to eat human food, or even finish what is left of their own meal. Much of this food isn’t great for humans, but it’s even worse for dogs – filling them up with high levels of fat. Human snacks are a particular problem, with many people sharing crisps and other foods high in saturated fat with their pets.
Exercise Has Decreased
Humans are becoming increasingly sedentary creatures. More and more people work from home and spend their relaxation time in front of the television or on their computers. This means dogs are getting fewer opportunities to go outside and exercise. Pets that burn fewer calories, but ingest excess calories will gain weight, leading to health problems. As the world becomes increasingly digitized, people will leave their houses for fewer and fewer reasons, such as ordering food deliveries rather than walking to the shop. Your choices as a pet parent directly impact your dog’s health as well.
Why Your Pet’s Weight Matters
Just as obesity causes health problems in humans, it causes many health problems in dogs too. Here are the top three reasons why having an obese dog will be an issue:
All the extra weight your dog is carrying will put extra strain on their joints. This means the cartilage will deteriorate more quickly than normal, leaving your dog with painful joints that hurt them when they move. If your dog requires additional support for and compression for specific joints you can try adding a wrap to provide that assistance.
2. Torn Ligaments
ACL tears are a common problem for obese dogs. Unfortunately this is a serious problem affecting a lot of pets. Often, torn ligaments can be surgically repaired but, it doesn’t always work and may not be an option for every dog. On top of expensive surgeries, these injuries often require additional care post-op such as rehab therapy.
A knee injury may impact your dog’s movements for the rest of their life and many pets will rely on the added support of a dog wheelchair to stay active.
3. Heart and Lung Conditions
Additionally, your pet’s weight gain causes high blood pressure. Increasing the risk of heart disease in your pet. This causes the heart to work harder, placing additional strain on the lungs. This additional strain may eventually cause respiratory crisis – something that can be fatal.
As such, you need to make sure your pet is as happy and healthy as possible. Give them enough exercise, feed them the right diet, and listen to expert advice. People who want additional peace of mind and security should use pet insurance too, as a combination of owner knowledge and expert insurance is always best.