Currently, more and more people are aware of their diet, physical activity and how this affects their health. This thought is fundamental to transfer also to the lives of our furry ones, since a sedentary life and bad eating habits also affect them.
In fact, obesity is an increasingly common problem. Due to this, this disease has been defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the first non-infectious pandemic of the 21st century .
Let’s learn how to know if our dog is at its ideal weight or if on the contrary, it is overweight, how to evaluate the situation and know the origin of the problem, and of course, tips to solve it.
How to detect obesity in a dog
Today obesity is the most common nutritional disorder among domestic dogs. It is estimated that in developed countries, between 17-44% of dogs are overweight or obese. In order to avoid it, you must learn to detect the first signs of obesity and remedy them as soon as possible.
How to do it? The first step is to find out how heavy your dog should be based on its breed and other characteristics such as its age or size. Once you are clear about this information, check how much your furry weighs. Obesity is called when the body weight of the animal exceeds at least 20% its adequate size depending on its breed, sex and age.
If we exceed or approach this percentage, we must stop it. In that case, it is no longer valid to say that “the dog is strong” or that “it only has a few extra pounds”. The reality is this is a serious disease that increases morbidity and drastically decreases both quality and life expectancy, so this is no joke. The good news is that even in extreme cases, it has a solution if it is detected and the appropriate measures are taken.
Causes that lead to obesity
Obesity results from an imbalance between an increase in intake and a decrease in energy expenditure. It is a chronic disease, of multifactorial origin, in whose development both genetic and environmental factors are involved:
- The age of the dog. A puppy is growing and therefore needs a higher calorie intake than an adult. Therefore, we cannot feed them in the same way.
- Metabolic imbalances or diseases. Some food-related conditions and disorders can also be behind canine obesity.
- A sedentary lifestyle. Lack of daily exercise causes the dog to accumulate more calories than it needs. Going for a walk and motivating you to exercise is essential.
- Anxiety. This can also be an important factor, as it makes the dog eat more and faster, gobbling up the food.
- The sex and reproductive status of the animal, obesity tends to affect females more than males, increasing its frequency in sterilized animals.
- Certain breeds of dogs are more likely to gain weight : Labrador, Cocker Spaniel, Dachshund and Basset Hound, among others.
How does obesity affect the health of the dog?
Obesity has serious consequences and not only at the health level, which we will talk about next, but also economically. Well, it has been determined that the average cost of the veterinarian in a dog with obesity is almost 20% higher than that of dogs with normal weight.
In health matters, it favors the appearance of numerous problems and diseases due, on the one hand, to mechanical stress, which causes an increase in the incidence of orthopedic diseases, with an increase in the rupture of the cruciate ligament in the head and cardiovascular alterations.
On the other hand, it is also accompanied by metabolic changes, excess fat is linked to an increase in the secretion of inflammatory adipocytes, leading to cases of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes mellitus . Tendencies to hypothyroidism, the appearance of kidney and pancreatic problems, hepatic and respiratory. In addition, it is involved in the development of more and more types of cancer, exercise intolerances, high temperatures, and problems with anesthetics.
What to do if you think your dog is overweight?
If you think your dog has an obesity problem, the first step is to go to the vet so he can examine it well, weigh it and see what may be causing this disorder . The specialist will look for the eventual or pathological causes of this weight gain and will give us guidelines so that your canine friend has a proper diet and a healthier lifestyle.
When the dog reaches its ideal weight it is important that you continue with veterinary advice, so that it does not regain the lost weight. Yes, they are not free of the well-known rebound effect.
Tips to avoid or reduce obesity
Keep in mind that canine obesity is directly related to inappropriate habits, for which we are responsible.
It is not a question of blaming yourself, but you must become aware of what is happening and correct bad routines . Some behaviors to avoid are:
- Let’s avoid eating ad libitum, letting him eat as much as he wants, without controlling the speed or the limit of what he eats.
- Give him foods that are inappropriate for his breed, size or age.
- Add your leftovers to your diet.
- Give him the concentrated food in a single serving, instead of dividing it into three or four throughout the day.
Falling into these mistakes is very common and, if they persist over time, they can lead to canine obesity. In addition to the change in the way you feed your furry, we also recommend that you increase their physical activity through games or exercises.