A Little Extra Weight Can Mean a Lot!

Gram and I are sitting here on the patio having a snack, when Gram started talking about diets. It appears that Gram is thinking of shedding a few pounds. That is something my Mom did for me and Mr. Yule, she put us on some new food and we both lost some of our baby fat, even though we have not been babies for a very long time.

Gram was telling me how important it is for dogs as well as humans to not be overweight, which brings us to today's article.

The world today is focused on weight, slim is in for humans and it is also the word that is being passed around in the canine circles. The “in dogs” know that less weight around their tummies is a good thing.

Recent studies have shown that between 25 and 40 percent of our canine friends are overweight. The interesting fact is that most dog owners do not consider their pets overweight.

A chubby dog is not a happy dog, nor is a “roly-poly” dog a healthy dog.The heavier a dog is the more chances it has of developing other obesity diseases. Just a 10 percent increase in extra weight may shorten a dog’s life by 33 percent up to 50 percent as shown in recent studies.

The fourth top cause of a dog’s death, is an obesity caused disease, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. Obesity is debilitating and obese animals really do suffer. The fact is that most owners under exercise their dogs and overfeed them, this results in a strain on every part of their body.

What breeds are prone to obesity? Dogs who are pudgy puppies are apt to fight the battle of the bulge for the rest of their lives. Some of the breeds that are inclined to overeat and store “fat” in their cells for future use are:

  • Labrador retrievers
  • Basset hounds
  • Shetland sheepdogs
  • Beagles
  • Pugs
  • Cairn terriers
  • Dachshunds
  • Cocker spaniels
  • Norwegian elkhounds

    What are the diseases a dog is likely to get from being overweight?

    Excess weight puts extra wear and tear on an animal’s aging body, causing joints to develop arthritis and other orthopedic disorders to happen sooner. Many owners think the stiffening of joints is due to old age, but more often than not, it is the beginning stages or arthritis. If a dog already has an existing orthopedic problem such as a slipped kneecap, hip dysplasia, ruptured or torn ligament or any spinal disc problems, it is important to start on a weight loss program at once. A loss of a pound or two is fairly easy, but the most important thing is to get the dog back to its normal breed weight.

    Overweight dogs have trouble breathing and the heat of a hot summer day is intolerable. Many overweight dogs have trouble breathing, they pant a great deal, have shortness of breath, have trouble sleeping and many walk around with their tongues hanging out of their mouths. They also have to stop and rest when walking or playing.

    Fat stored around the abdomen, ribs and around the neck, constricts the diaphragm, lungs and airways, making it difficult for an obese dog to breathe. Toy dogs and dogs with short snouts are even affected more.

    If you notice your dog coughing it may be suffering from chronic bronchitis as a result of being overweight.

    Being overweight does not bring on heart disease, but if your dog has a heart condition, being overweight will aggravate the condition and impede treatment.

    Overweight dogs have less stamina and low energy. The stored fat and expanded tissue puts an extra demand on the cardiac and respiratory system because the extra tissue requires more oxygen and blood. Since dogs cool themselves by panting and the extra pounds restricts their breathing, their tolerance for heat is impeded. The extra fat makes a dog feel hotter sooner. Obese dogs are prime candidates for heat stroke, heat exhaustion and death.

    Obesity can cause gastrointestinal distress and disease. Obesity puts dogs to risk for pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas, ingestion problems, gas, and upset stomachs and bowel problems.

    The liver can be affected when the fat stores inside the liver, diabetes can occur, cancer is possible in the mammary glands or bladder, dogs can have immune system breakdowns and their skin and coat can have all types of dermatitis problems.

    Medical treatment and surgery is affected because of the layers of fat and because the heart and lungs have to work extra hard, the risk of anesthesia problems increases.

    As you can see there is nothing good that can come from having an overweight dog. Over feeding is not a way to show your love. Those big brown eyes that beg for the extra bite of people food needs to be ignored. If you must feed treats, feed raw veggies, most dogs will enjoy them, as what they really want is your time.

    It is important you talk to your vet about the type of diet your dog should be on. If all else fails cut down on the amount of food you feed your dog take away a quarter of what you are feeding it and soon you will see a change in its health, its stamina and you just may have your puppy back again.

    We do not get enough time with our pets as their normal life span is not long, so it is up to us to take control, keep our pet’s weight at a normal breed level, exercise them, feed them a good diet and most of all love them to pieces.

    I hope tis article sheds some light on the importance of keeping your dogs slim and trim.

    Until next time I remain,

    Your Sadie

    Little Tikes Jump 'N' Slide