Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a traveling, board-certified surgeon in Allentown, PA. His website is www.DrPhilZeltzman.com. He is the co-author of “Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound” (www.WalkaHound.com).
Kelly Serfas, a Certified Veterinary Technician in Bethlehem, PA, contributed to this article.
Pet lovers often take overweight or obese dogs casually. Yet these dogs are at a greater risk for a number of serious consequences. Here are 7 examples of such consequences.
Extra weight puts extra pressure on a dog’s joints. The cartilage in the joint deteriorates, which leads to arthritis. Sure, we can give pain medications, but weight loss helps significantly.
Too much weight is a well-known risk factor for tearing the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), an important ligament in the knee. A torn ACL must be repaired with surgery.
3. Heart and breathing conditions
Weight gain can cause heart disease and high blood pressure. It’s also linked to breathing problems. Overweight dogs are more prone to a collapsing trachea and laryngeal paralysis. Untreated, these airway conditions could lead to a respiratory crisis which could be fatal if not treated.
4. Anesthesia risk
The heart and lungs of overweight and obese dogs have to work harder during anesthesia. The dog struggles to breathe because he has difficulty expanding his chest. Dogs often sleep too deeply or not deeply enough. In addition, overweight dogs may take a long time to wake up after anesthesia.
Obesity may increase the risk of certain tumors such as benign fatty tumors (lipomas), as well as breast and bladder cancer (transitional cell carcinoma).
6. Skin diseases
Overweight dogs have extra skin folds, which can cause irritation and infection by bacteria. This can lead to scratching, body odor and skin redness. Overweight dogs often have an unhealthy looking coat because it’s harder, if not impossible, for them to groom effectively.
7. Quantity and quality of life
Obesity can take up to 2 years off the life of your dog! Quality of life is also lower. Carrying extra pounds around takes a toll; overweight dogs are slow to get down and up, they get winded or tired quickly and are less likely to play.
How can I keep my dog trim and healthy?
Schedule an appointment with your family vet so you can tailor a weight-loss program to your dog’s needs. There are no miracles to losing weight: eat less and exercise more. Eating less will involve sticking to a balanced weight-loss food. It’s also reasonable to cut down on treats and “people food.” However, it’s not considered ideal to cut down on the amount of food unless your veterinarian suggests it. Starving a pet is just as bad as overfeeding.
The other requirement for losing weight is more exercise. Fortunately, this is the good part! It involves more time having fun with your dog.
Overweight or obese dogs aren’t beyond saving. The situation can be corrected. Your family vet can provide you with the tools and the knowledge to help your dog live a long and happy life. You simply need to have the awareness and the motivation to act. Hopefully, having a happy and healthy dog is enough motivation.
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian -- they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.
All About Weight Gain In Older Dogs
Weight gain in dogs is a huge problem today, and the number of obese dogs is on the increase.
According to a recent study conducted by the Association For Pet Obesity Prevention, 53% of dogs are overweight to some degree.
This is really worrying because weight gain is a double-whammy for your dog because it can be caused by poor diet or disease….
… and that extra weight can also cause more health issues to develop.
Sudden weight gain in an older dog is something that you always need to take seriously.
How to Manage Obesity in Senior Dogs
Last Updated: April 9, 2019 References
This article was co-authored by Pippa Elliott, MRCVS. Dr. Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS is a veterinarian with over 30 years of experience in veterinary surgery and companion animal practice. She graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1987 with a degree in veterinary medicine and surgery. She has worked at the same animal clinic in her hometown for over 20 years.
There are 17 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.
This article has been viewed 1,296 times.
Obesity in any dog is a serious medical condition. Obesity in a senior dog is even more serious because the odds are even greater that your dog will develop a secondary complication. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to manage your dog’s obesity. Start by talking to your vet. Your vet will work with you to help you develop an exercise regimen and diet that gets your dog’s obesity under control. Follow your vet’s directions carefully and be conscientious of how much you’re feeding your dog. Additionally, stay on the lookout for conditions that often accompany obesity, including cardiovascular problems, breathing difficulties, and diabetes.
Why Is My Dog So Thin?
If you feel that your dog is too thin, you should consult your vet. They will assess your dog's body condition to either confirm your suspicions or put your mind at ease. And if your dog is underweight, it could be a sign of a larger health problem that needs to be addressed. Apart from starvation and improper care, here are the biggest reasons dogs tend to be underweight.
If your dog is too skinny, one of the first things to check is that you're feeding them properly. Be aware that not all dog foods are created equal in terms of calories and nutritional value. Depending on the manufacturer and brand, one cup of dry dog food can contain anywhere from around 200 to 600 calories, says Tufts University. So while you might think one cup a day is plenty for your pooch, it's possible their food isn't meeting their daily calorie requirement.
Some commercial dog foods also use improperly balanced and/or poor-quality ingredients that don't provide your dog with adequate nutrition. Check with your veterinarian for their recommendation on a high-quality dog food, and be sure to check the number of calories per cup to be sure you're giving your dog the correct amount for their size and activity level. Ask your vet if you're not sure how many calories your dog should be getting each day.
Underlying Health Conditions
Being underweight can also signal an underlying illness, especially if the weight loss is sudden. A number of health issues can cause weight loss in dogs, ranging from tooth pain to gastrointestinal discomfort to more serious conditions such as diabetes, thyroid disease and cancer. Your vet will conduct a thorough exam, along with bloodwork and a urinalysis, in order to discover or rule out what could be responsible for your dog's weight loss.
It's fairly normal for some senior dogs to lose a little weight as they age, due to factors like reduced appetite, loss of muscle mass and digestive problems — all of which are common among aging dogs, says Pet Carrier Verdict. Talk to your vet about possibly switching your dog's food to something more age-appropriate and easier to digest. As common as some weight loss is in senior dogs, rapid or significant weight loss indicate health problems that need to be addressed.