How serious is dog obesity?

Emma Frain 07 January 2022
Written by Veterinary Dr. Linda Simon

 

One of the things that saddens me most as a vet is seeing otherwise healthy animals who are over-weight. Over the years, I see their health deteriorating as they start to suffer from obesity-related issues.

 

Why are so many dogs over-weight?

 

While many owners are aware of the issue, they struggle to control their dog’s weight. It can be especially hard when a dog is very food-motivated and is always ‘on the prowl’. Certain breeds including French Bulldogs, Labrador Retrievers and Beagles are known for their appetite and there is likely a genetic component.

 

As dogs get older, they naturally become less active and will begin to gain weight if we continue to feed the same portions. Remember, obesity can strike at any age and we need to be regularly monitoring our dogs. As well as weighing them on the scales at the vet clinic, it is important to assess their Body Condition Score about once a month at home.

 

Being the loving owners that we are, it is natural that we want our dogs to be happy. This can often mean giving them treats and chews or filling up their food bowl nice and high. However, the short-term happiness that this brings is not worth it when we weigh it up against the long-term health implications of obesity.

 

Is being over-weight really that bad?

 

Excess fat will not only affect your dog’s quality of life but can even shorten their lifespan. Obese dogs tend to live a year or so less than their slim peers. Vets now consider obese dogs to be in a constant ‘ low-level inflammatory state’. Worryingly, "the detrimental health effects of obesity in our four-legged family members don’t appear to be well-recognised amongst owners. Nearly a third (31 per cent) don’t agree that podgy pets are more likely to suffer from serious diseases, and 35 per cent don’t agree that they are tragically less likely to live as long." (PDSA Vet Nurse, Nina Downing).

 

Over-weight dogs struggle more with chronic conditions such as joint disease, skin disease and heart disease. They are also more prone to diabetes, bladder stones and certain cancers. They cope worse under anaesthetic as they are less able to tolerate heat.

 

As arthritis is so common in over-weight middle-aged and older dogs, it is something that your vet should have on their radar at every check-up. These dogs should be on joint supplements, to help their joints cope with the excess burden they’re carrying. Pooch & Mutt’s Daily Care Joint supplement is a good option; offering protection from wear and tear. The glucosamine and Omega 3 fatty acids keep joints lubricated and help prevent cartilage breakdown.

 

What’s the best diet to keep my dog slim?

According to the PDSA Paw Report, the main issues reported by dog owners for weight gain in their pets include 29% of dogs beg for food, 19% of owners like feeding treats, 19% of dogs are fussy with food, and 15% of owners like to feed treats because it shows that they love their dog. Unfortunately, these over feeding owners could be killing their pooch with kindness.

While exercise plays a role in maintaining a nice, lean condition, diet is thought to be the most important factor.

 

It is not advisable to cut down dramatically on your dog’s regular food as this can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Rather, we should feed them a specific weight management food such as Pooch & Mutt’s Slim & Slender. We want a lower calorie food that is nutritionally balanced.

 

The first ingredient should be a lean meat such as turkey or chicken. We want to stick to relatively high protein diets that are low in fat. With 45% chicken, the Slim & Slender diet is ideal for those wanting to lose fat and build muscle.

 

Did you know, chicken is a rich source of L-Carnitine? This amino acid is also sometimes called a ‘fat burner’ that supports the breakdown of fat and helps to generate energy.

 

As a carbohydrate source, Pooch & Mutt uses sweet potato; a low GI food which releases energy slowly over time. This ensures your dog is motivated to exercise and won’t be feeling sluggish. The high fibre content will also help your dog feel full, reducing their desire to beg for treats or snaffle food.

 

The Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) in Pooch & Mutt’s Slim & Slender Food can enhance weight loss. It is thought to speed up the metabolism and to help the body use up stored fat.

 

Owners need to weigh out portions at every meal, sticking to the allocated amounts. They should also strictly limit treats, sticking to lower calorie options such as raw carrot and boiled chicken. Chews, raw hide and dental sticks are very high in calories and are usually to be avoided.

 

Keeping that weight off

 

For most dogs, keeping the weight off can be just as tricky as losing it. It is generally advised that dogs prone to obesity stay on a weight management diet.

 

These dogs should be weighed at least monthly, to ensure they are not re-gaining the lost weight.

 

For the majority of owners, seeing the change in their dog’s mobility and energy levels, is all the motivation they need to keep them slimmed down.

 

 

 

2 comments

Hi @Carole Mumby I can recommend the https://www.poochandmutt.co.uk/products/fish-wet-food-for-dogs food as it’s low fat and use the feeding calculator on the page to work out how much. Try and go off what she is supposed to weigh for her age rather than what she currently is. With crate rest she won’t need a lot and if you’re worried about the leg healing, i’d also recommend adding a supplement on top of that. Bionic Biotic is a a good all rounder if it’s tissue damage as full of ingredients to help skin and fur growth. If it’s bones that are healing i’d go for the Mobile bones supplement.

Team Pooch @ 2022-04-22 15:07:43 +0100

11 month affenpinscher had leg surgery so on cage rest. Piling on weight. She can’t have chicken . How much to feed her for her for her to loose weight but have enough nutrition to heal and support leg. She weighs 5kg

Carole Mumby @ 2022-04-22 14:37:48 +0100