We hear all the time about the dangers of obesity in humans, but have you ever stopped to think about how those same dangers apply to your dog? You may love how happy your dog becomes when you give him a treat, or maybe you’re a sucker for hungry eyes, but either way you may be shortening your dog’s life by giving in. Here are 8 things you should know about obesity in dogs – you may be loving your dog to death.
#1 – Obesity can cause permanent damage…
…That can never be fixed, even with a change in diet and exercise. Extra weight can cause lasting damage to your pet’s internal organs, bones, and joints. While some damage is reversible, some isn’t. The sooner you can reverse your dog’s bad habits, the less likely it is they will suffer permanent consequences.
#2 – You should be able to feel your dog’s ribs
In most dog breeds, you shouldn’t be able to see the dog’s ribs, but you should always be able to feel them and the spine when your dog is standing. On most pets, there should be a tucked in hourglass shape to the waist. If you can’t feel your dog’s ribs, it’s time for him to lose some weight.
#3 – Obesity shortens life spans
A large study of Labrador Retrievers found that being even moderately overweight can reduce canine life expectancy by nearly two years compared to leaner dogs. That is a significant amount of time you could lose with your beloved pet, especially when you consider that the average dog’s life span is only 10-13 years to begin with.
#4 – Fat tissue secretes inflammatory hormones
It also creates oxidative stress on the body’s tissue. Both of these things contribute to many diseases. So body fat is more than just cushioning – it actively makes your dog sick. Obesity should be considered as a chronic, low-level inflammatory condition.
#5 – Obese dogs are at higher risk for:
-Cancers of all types
-Heart disease and hypertension
-Exercise intolerance, decreased stamina
-Liver disease or dysfunction
-Lowered immune system function
#6 – Talk to your vet about changing your dog’s diet
If you decide your dog is obese and that it’s time to take action to increase his health and lifespan, you should talk to your veterinarian before changing his diet. Just reducing the amount of food you give your dog can cause malnutrition, so it’s important to discuss a good low-calorie food and feeding schedule to help your dog lose weight in a healthy way.
#7 – You don’t have to give up on snacks
As long as your vet approves, fresh or frozen green beans, broccoli, and cauliflower can make excellent snacks that will allow you to reward your dog without thwarting his weight loss attempts.
#8 – Increase exercise gradually
Just like overweight humans, obese dogs who have gotten used to being lazy will not suddenly be willing and able to run laps around the dog park. You should gradually take your dog on longer and more intense walks to build up their endurance.