We like to give our dogs treats when they wag their tails and look at us with those pleading doggy eyes. However, too many snacks together with overfeeding and lack of exercise can add unwanted pounds to your dog’s body. Many dog owners tend to be too casual about their dog’s weight. (If you’re not sure whether your dog is overweight or obese, click here for a handy chart.) However, what you need to be certain about is the following – if you allow your dog to become obese, serious health problems are likely to follow, which can include the following:
Extra weight equals extra pressure on a dog’s joints. When this happens, the cartilage in the joint will gradually deteriorate, and painful arthritis will result. If your dog has arthritis and is overweight, weight loss will help him significantly.
Too many pounds is a well-known risk factor for tears in the CCL (cranial cruciate ligament), a crucial element in a dog’s knee. If your dog has a torn CCL, surgery will be necessary.
Weight gain in dogs can lead to heart disease and high blood pressure. Heart conditions can include the following:
- Chronic Valvular Disease – a heart valve leakage that reduces the amount of blood pumped around the body.
- Myocardial Disease – a weakness or thickening of the heart muscle that results in the heart pumping less efficiently.
Breathing problems are linked to obesity in dogs. Overweight dogs are at risk for laryngeal paralysis or a collapsing trachea. If left untreated, these airway issues can lead to a fatal respiratory crisis.
During anesthesia, the heart and lungs of overweight dogs have to work harder. The anesthetized dog will struggle to breathe because it’s difficult for him to expand his chest.
An obese dog may be at risk for certain tumors (e.g., benign fatty tumors called lipomas), and more serious conditions such as breast and bladder cancer (transitional cell carcinoma).
Being overweight causes extra skin folds to develop, which can be irritating and liable to bacterial infection. If you notice that your dog is scratching a lot, has body odor and skin redness, have him checked out by your vet.
Quantity and Quality of Life
Being obese can take up to two years off the life of a dog and lower his quality of life – toting extra pounds around takes a toll. If your dog is overweight, he may be slow to get up, get winded and tire quickly, and be less interested in play.
How Can I Prevent My Dog From Becoming Overweight?
The basic answer is to feed your dog less and exercise him more. Cut down on treats and people food and talk to your vet about a balanced weight-loss diet. (There are also some non-diet reasons why your dog might be gaining weight). Your vet can help your dog slim down and live a long and happy life. One other thing to think about – in an emergency situation, being obese can complicate any required emergency treatment. However, if your dog does need urgent medical care, and you live in the Columbia, SC area, don’t hesitate to bring him to CVETS.