Dog´s obesity is the main health problem in US. More than 50% of American dogs have overweight. Obese dogs tend to suffer from several pains or illnesses. As a result, they have a lower quality of life and even a shorter life expectancy. Lose weight is always a good measure. It needs to be achieved through incremental exercise levels and looking after the dog’s calorie intake. Obese dogs health problems:
In this post we cover 4 topics about obese dogs health problems:
- What health problems can they have?
- Basic food recommendations
- Basic exercise recommendations
- How do we track exercise and calories?
WHAT HEALTH PROBLEMS CAN AN OBESE DOG HAVE?
Dog owners need to be aware, that obesity has even worse consequences in dogs than in humans. We need to know what is the risk our loved dogs are facing when they are overweight or obese. Then likely we will try to prevent this in order dogs have a better body condition so they can enjoy also a better quality of life.
- Arthritis & back pains: Bones, joints, muscles, associated tendons and ligaments work together to enable dogs to be so agile and quick by nature. As it happens to us, overweight damages in the midterm our body, and we get to broken ligaments or several sorts of body pains. Then we will tend to reduce exercise. As a result, our dogs will gain weight. We enter in the perverse cycle.
- Diabetes: This is one of the most common consequences coming from sustained obesity in dogs. When insulin needs are greater than the body’s ability to produce it, diabetes will appear. Since obese and overweight dogs eat more than needed, the body may not be able to produce all the insulin required to deal with such a great amount of glucose.
- Chronic Kidney disease:
The above health problems will reduce the quality of life of our dog. They will become more dependent and will reduce their exercise level.
Not so critical for their health, but quite smelly for us. Obese dogs have also normally digestive disorders. Intestinal gas and flatulence usually accompany overweight.
Most critical at the end is the heart problems and hard consequences. Each additional pound represents an additional effort for their bodies. If a dog is obese, his heart needs to work harder to make the same exercise. If this effort is continuous in time and years, naturally can cause at some point an early heart failure. Obese dogs have shorter lifes.
Overweight and obesity are a consequence of the unbalanced calorie intake and exercise. So let´s see what can we do in both dimensions.
BASIC FOOD RECOMMENDATIONS
Dogs are coming from wolves, which are great predators. They have eaten mainly meat for thousands of years. They are omnivorous, but basically hunted prey, and they eat them all.
Also, they enjoyed human rubbish. Actually they still enjoy it a lot. You will see that they go for the fat and protein from our garbage cans.
So why we are feeding them mostly with dry food with a high proportion in cereals. Again, I guess you have never seen a dog willing to eat corn, rice or wheat. In this way, they are different from us. Humans have always had a mixed diet between cereals, meat, and fruits. Dogs, mainly meat.
Of course, they also enjoy any food that is bringing some fat. In the end, they are hunters but also scavengers. Yes, simply look how silently they approach the trash can. Look how do they enjoy stirring the garbage and find something to digest.
Basic rules are:
- To be aware of how much food your dog require. Basically how many calories should he take? This depends on the breed, size, age and activity level. Please check the healthy weight calculator to get an idea of what is the situation of your dog (ideal weight, overweight, obese) and what is the required daily calorie intake.
- To look for dry food (kibble) with fewer carbohydrates. On average commercial brands have 60 to 70 % on cereals and 30 to 40 % protein. Proportions should be the other way around. Look for foods with 30 to 40% on carbohydrates. If you feed with the right quantity, your dog will have energy but will be losing weight in the midterm.
- Better carbohydrates from fruits than from cereals. Dogs and wolves in wild status are the gut from their herbivore preys…guess what? The rabbit eats wild fruits, not processed or even natural cereals
- Avoid table scraps. In any case, if given in some extraordinary occasion, it should be something the natural feeding of a dog, and the daily feeding quantity should be proportionally adjusted.
- Treats should be an exception. Unless the dog is in the basic learning phase, treatments should be given quite occasionally, and always according to natural feeding for the dog. If given daily (dental cleaning treats), please consider the additional calorie y intake that it represents.
BASIC EXERCISE RECOMMENDATIONS
Basically we need to incrementally increase the level of exercise of our dog. It is very important, to do that quite gradually. I recommend you can write down how much exercise your dogs make on a daily basis. You should be aware of:
- How many minutes per day does he walk?
- How many minutes per day does he play?
- How many miles does he make in a day?
Then you have the starting situation. Then, you have to set a plan to increase this exercise level on a weekly basis. How much each week? You will see, how your dog evolves. It is important to observe how is he doing, and not force him to face not achievable exercise levels. But dogs love playing, and if you play with them, they will gradually improve their body condition.
The goal is not to have an athlete at home. Simply to bring back our dog to his default condition. No wild dog or wolf suffers from overweight. Even if a wolf is having access to all the prey they want, they will not get obese… Maybe they know by instinct, that if they do not keep a good condition, they will not get food in the future…
Our dogs suffer from humanization and socialization in regards to food. They do not need to be fit to eat anymore, so they can be obese and overweight. This is fine, but be aware that you are shortening then heavily their already short lives. Since this is not our goal, then let´s have their weight under control.
EXERCISE AND CALORIES TRACKING
Hahaha…. what cannot be measured cannot be managed! What about if you were able to digitize information from your dogs?
For several years, I am using smartwatches, that tell me how many steps, calories, and even my heart pace… For dogs, is the same. There are several dog activity monitoring devices.
I definitively recommend that you enhance your pet information, by attaching one of these devices to his collar. The activity level is a key indicator of calorie consumption. Therefore, quite important to see match the calorie intake of your dog, with what he is burning on a daily or weekly basis.
At aside image, you can see the information provided by Fitbark 2. So from 5pm to 6pm, we went for a walk and visit a dog park. Overall Pintxo has burnt 170 calories, made 2,5 km. 35 minutes playing and 20 active… so good evening walk!
An activity monitor is also an early alarm system of your dog´s health. If suddenly you see that your dog is reducing heavily his daily activity, this is normally a symptom that something is going on. A good moment to have a look and even visit your vet.
START NOW, YOUR DOG WILL THANK YOU
A healthy and happy dog helps us to live a longer and better life.
Healthy dogs are related to healthy food and exercise habits. Since we are their companions, whatever improvement we do for them, is also having an effect on us. So be selfish my friend. Just take care in a good way from your dog, as you will get healthy benefits out of it.
Please feel free to comment and provide your opinion and experience regarding the dog´s obesity problem, derived from the humanization and civilization of Dogs (Canis Lupus familiaris)
2 thoughts on “Obese Dogs Health Problems”
I have a 1 year old Labrador and I want to say that these articles are very useful and I read them with great interest. As you know, laborers have this problem with obesity, especially when they start to age. A great advantage of this article is that you said about the recommended foods to avoid obesity. At this moment my dog is at an Ideal stage but I noticed few similarities and with an over-weight example. I go every morning with him in the park and try to make him burn calories and be a sportsman (as I am).
Hi! thx for your feedback. We are on the same page!! It is important to give some voice to our dogs… Since they cannot speak out. Your dog is definitively a lucky one. Having an owner that likes sports, but also likes to involve his dog on them it is great. I take Pintxo for running, hiking, kayaking, swimming… Anyhow, to your point: Exercise is great for them, to be relaxed. If you manage to have a balanced calorie intake, according exercise level, your dog will not suffer from obesity and overweight. Labradors are particularly relevant since this breed has a tendency to eat as much as they can at every moment :-). Even there are studies that say that some Labradors are having already this all-you-can-eat need at their genes. Please check the following research article from Cambridge University: https://www.cam.ac.uk/research…
Take care! Jabu