Often, when we see underweight and malnourished dogs, we are hit with a feeling of sadness and anger. Of course, it goes without saying, that these feelings are completely valid and it is completely normal to assume abuse and neglect. On the other end of the spectrum, when we look at fat dogs, we don’t feel the same feelings, unless, of course we know that owners who allow their dogs to become obese, are (often without realising), also exposing their dogs to abuse and neglect. We see these plump critters as well fed, much loved and even cute looking dogs. The truth is, dog obesity can be incredibly dangerous and come with numerous health problems.
Obesity in dogs can be a result of a few factors, however the biggest cause of dog obesity is overeating, and under exercising. It’s difficult to ignore those sweet pup eyes looking at you, hoping for a treat, or a few scraps from dinner. Other causes of dog obesity may include genetics (breeds such as Labrador Retrievers, Scottish Terriers and Basset Hounds are more prone to obesity), as well as hyperthyroidism and certain medications. However, the majority of dogs that suffer from obesity become this way due to lifestyle.
Dog obesity can result in many unpleasant health conditions, some of them even life-threatening. Some of these include incontinence, respiratory problems,a shorter lifespan, heart disease, joint and muscle deterioration, diabetes, constipation, cancer and a generally bad quality of life.
The first line of treatment would be to take your dog to a veterinarian to be assessed as to just how overweight he is, as well as an all around checkup to see if any damage has been caused by obesity. A vet will establish a healthy BMI and weight for your dog, and provide you with information on both nutrition and exercise regimes to get your dog back to an optimum weight. He will most likely recommend a dog food which is rich in both fiber and protein, and advise a lower intake of calories.
Another vitally important aspect of recovery from obesity is increasing your dog’s physical activity. There are loads of enjoyable activities that you can do with your dog. Going for walks (15 minutes twice a day is a great start), letting him run along the beach, and playing outdoor games such as fetch.
The Bottom Line
While you may think treats and loads of delicious food is a way of showing your dog how much you love him, you are more likely causing more bad than good. There are many ways to give your dog a happy life, including healthy activities such as playing,giving him fun toys to play with and showering him with loads of love.