Pet obesity is a growing concern among veterinarians. Dogs that are overweight may be at greater risk of developing conditions such as Heart Disease, Arthritis, and Cushing’s disease. They also have a reduced quality of life and a shortened lifespan.
Weight loss can have a number of benefits on your dog’s health, such as a lower risk of diseases and better health for joints. A healthy dog will likely mean fewer vet visits.
What You Can Do to Help Your Dog Reduce Weight
Weight gain is often caused by a lack of exercise and a bad diet.
We’re increasingly seeing dogs that are overfed and under-exercised. Pet owners are increasingly treating them as family members, and using treats to communicate their love. David Dilmore is the medical editor of Banfield Pet Hospital in Vancouver, Washington.
According to Dr. Dilmore’s words, even small adjustments can make a significant difference over time. Instead of running with your dog three miles every day, begin by walking an extra few blocks. You can also make small adjustments by limiting the amount of ‘people’ food and treats. Limit them to 10 percent or less.
A simple change would be to replace the bowl with interactive dog toys. Dr. Angela Witzel is a clinical assistant professor in the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, Knoxville.
For example, the busy Buddy Kibble Nibble Dog Toy as well as the Starmark Bob-a Lot dog toy are made to encourage your dog to work hard for her food or treats.
Together with your vet, create a diet plan that will help your dog lose weight. Consult your vet before beginning an exercise program for your dog. It may be better to begin slowly to increase your pet’s stamina, says Dr. Dilmore.
Fitting in can be a lot of fun. You can set up daily goals and monitor your dog’s progress using technology. The FitBark 2 activity and sleep tracker can help you achieve your fitness goals and monitor the movements of your dog. The monitor can be synchronized with your smartphone so that you and your dog can work out together.
Consider these benefits if you want to help your dog shed some weight.
1. Reduced risk of health issues
According to Dr. Joe Bartges is a professor of Medicine and Nutrition in the College of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Georgia, Athens.
Cancer may be another factor. While there has been little research on the relationship between obesity and canine cancer, approximately 30% of human cancers are attributed to obesity. According to Dr. Witzel, it seems reasonable that obesity-related inflammation could increase cancer risk in dogs.
According to Dr. Bartges who is board-certified in veterinary nutritional science, keeping a dog’s weight healthy can help reduce the risk that she will develop one of more of these diseases. Weight loss can also improve the clinical symptoms of a dog with heart disease or lung problems, according to Dr. Witzel.
A healthy weight makes it easy for vets to diagnose, treat and detect potential illnesses. It is harder for vets to perform a complete physical exam on obese and overweight dogs. This means that diseases are more likely to be missed.
2. A Longer Lifespan
According to large-scale research, excess weight in dogs can lead to shorter lifespans. The study was designed to see if the Body Condition Score affected life expectancy. BCS is the most common way veterinarians determine if a dog’s weight is right, too heavy, or not enough. For example, the ribs must be felt, but not visible.
Researchers analyzed data collected from veterinary consultations in the United States on 10 dog breeds. These included the Golden Retriever, Beagle, and Cocker Spaniel. The average number of dogs per breed was 546.
According to the research, middle-aged dogs (aged between 6 1/2 to 8 1/2 years) who are overweight have a lower life expectancy (10 months or less), compared with dogs that were of optimum weight.
Another Labrador Retriever study showed that keeping excess weight in check can extend the life of a dog. It has been proven that Labrador Retrievers who have a healthy weight or are slightly overweight live two years longer than those who do not. The study found that some of the leaner dogs were still doing well at age 16 or 17 despite the fact that the Labrador’s average lifespan is only 12 years.
3. Reduced Risk of Arthritis
Weight loss can improve joint health in dogs, and reduce pain from arthritis. As dogs age, they will begin to develop arthritis. This is why it’s important that they do not become obese. David Wohlstadter is an emergency veterinarian at BluePearl Veterinary Partners, New York. He’s also a certified canine rehab therapist. He says that if they are carrying extra weight over arthritic joints, it will be painful. The body fat secretes hormones which can cause joint pain and inflammation.
According to Dr. Dilmore, “An unbreakable circle may develop, as the weight of the animal increases, so does its ability to move.” Regular, moderate exercise can help to improve the symptoms of joint diseases. This is why it’s a challenge for both pets and owners.
Ask your vet if your dog could benefit from joint supplements, such as Cosequin (DS) maximum strength plus MSM tablets.
4. Awakening Your Energy and Vitality
The weight loss of a dog can add years to their lives, but it also improves the quality. “Overall I’ve heard repeatedly from pet owners about their overweight and obese dogs being happier once they lost weight”, says Dr. Witzel.
This may partly be due to the increased activity that comes with weight loss. Dr. Wohlstadter says that dogs are generally active and enjoy physical exercise. He says that an overweight dog will find it more difficult to exercise.
Wohlstadter says that Huskies love to pull and Labs enjoy swimming. Retrievers also like retrieving. If they are overweight, this will make these activities more difficult and painful. “They can experience pain in their muscles and joints.”
The Labrador Retrievers studied in the study were reported to be 16 and 17-year-old dogs who are active, social, and vibrant.
5. Save time and money
Even if the treatment is successful, it can be expensive and take a lot of time. For example, if you own a Cushing’s dog, the time and money spent on trips to the vet, tests of adrenal hormone levels, and the prescription medication required for long periods are all part of the treatment. These treatments, such as chemotherapy and other intensive care for a dog, can cost you thousands of dollars.
It does not include the amount of time that you would need off work to do so. This does not include the stress or discomfort that your dog may feel from repeated visits to the vet and painful procedures.
Healthy dogs require less vet care. Maintaining a healthy body weight means fewer visits to the vet for preventive therapy and fewer or no prescriptions.
Dogs who lose weight can enjoy a longer life and have more energy. They also reduce their risk of health problems, which is good for the joints. With the assistance of your vet, committing to a healthy diet and regular exercise is an essential part of keeping your dog in good health.