Common Problems for Overweight Dogs (And What to Do About It)
As warmer weather rolls through many of us are on a mission to lose weight and focus on our health, so why not let our dogs join in, too? I don’t want to body shame any of my fellow canines, but the truth is that being overweight or obese is bad for a dog’s health! There are many common health conditions overweight and obese dogs face that can be avoided or improved by losing weight.
As a yellow lab with a tendency to pack on the pounds, I know what I’m talking about! It’s important to understand what’s at stake in terms of your dog’s health when they start getting chunky. Luckily, there’s also something you can do about it.
Medical Issues for Overweight Dogs
If your dog is a butterball, here are some medical issues they’re more likely to face as a result of the extra weight:
– High blood pressure (hypertension)
– Diabetes and insulin resistance
– Liver disease
– Joint damage and osteoarthritis
– Increased risk during surgery
– Weakened immune system
– Hip dysplasia
– Shorter life span by as much as 2 years
Remember that just because your dog is overweight or obese, it doesn’t mean they will develop any of these conditions! But being over their ideal weight does make it more likely that they will, compared with dogs at their ideal weight. You can see that overweight dogs are more likely to experience many of the same conditions that overweight humans can, too. Carrying extra weight puts stress on the body’s systems and means it can’t operate optimally.
What to Do About It
It’s your responsibility to take care of your dog’s health, and that includes watching their weight for them! Us dogs don’t have the self-control to turn down that fifth strip of bacon being offered to us, so you have to make sure we can’t get it in the first place. It’s also important to keep us active.
Watch the calories. You don’t have to go overboard tracking your dog’s calories every day, but you should have a general idea of how many calories they need a day (approximately 25-30 calories per pound) and how many they get with their typical serving of kibble or wet dog food. Then you will know what kind of leeway you have for treats. (And I do encourage you to give your dog treats! Just pay attention to how the calories add up!)
Have more fun. That is, walk more, run more, play more. Make sure you’re giving your dog the level of activity on a daily basis that’s needed for their breed. For some, that’s a nice walk around the block. For others, it could be a two-mile hike or some sprinting in the yard. If your dog isn’t getting the exercise they need because you aren’t really a fan of it, try to increase your own levels of activity to match that of your dog, or if that’s not possible, look into hiring a dog walker to take your dog outside for some good, regular exercise.
Talk to your vet. Most of the time, dogs gain excess weight because they’re eating more food than they need and/or not getting as much exercise as they need. But sometimes, there are underlying medical reasons for weight gain. If your dog isn’t responding to diet and exercise as you expect, talk to your vet about other possibilities like hypothyroidism or Cushing’s disease.
The bottom line is that carrying extra weight isn’t just a matter of appearance, but a matter of health when it comes to your dog. By allowing your dog to carry excess weight, you could be allowing them to live in pain and develop some undesirable medical conditions – and possibly even shorten their life. I know you don’t want that! So it’s up to you to keep your dog in good shape.
You can do it!! – Kia
Kia is a full-sized dog living with a full-sized family! She's full of energy and loves to romp with kids, so whenever Kia is around, you know you're in for an exciting time!