Why you should be worried about that extra Puppy fat!
Is your dog carrying a little too much puppy fat? Controlling that ever-enlarging waistline is a major health concern facing our modern-day society, and it’s not only humans who are affected. The obesity epidemic is taking its toll on our furry friends too.
Obesity and weight issues among dogs and cats in Australia are concerning with some earlier studies showing that almost half of dogs and one-third of cats in Australia are overweight or obese.¹ Although it may be hard to resist giving your pet an extra treat or a little bit more food when they show off their puppy dog eyes, obesity is a serious concern and can predispose your pet to a number of potentially serious health concerns.
The Main Risks of Dog Obesity
1 – Reduced quality of life and reduced lifespan- Studies have shown that obesity sets us and our pets up for higher rates of cancer, and also damages many internal organs like the liver. These diseases can ultimately affect the lifespan and quality of your pets life. Managing your pet’s weight can help ensure our dogs live longer and healthier lives.
2 – Increased risks of Arthritis- Of course, there are many medicines out there that can be prescribed to help relieve the signs of arthritis but improving the diet and reducing the weight of your pet could reduce inflammation and help to make a large difference.
3 – Increased risk of acute joint damage- Nature designed dogs to have ligaments and tendons strong enough for their bodies. If the body is too heavy, then the risk of ligament damage is vastly increased.
4 – Diabetes- As in the human population, diabetes is a common and significant result of obesity. When a dog has diabetes its cells cannot absorb sugar from the blood. The cells lose their ability to absorb blood sugar when they become insulin resistant. The cells need energy to make them work. When the energy-giving glucose cannot get into the cells, the dog will tire easily, but it will also be crying out for food, as the cells think they are starving, so the dog will eat more and pump more sugars into its bloodstream trying to satisfy those starving cells.
Too much blood sugar overwhelms the kidneys and it flows into the urine drawing water with it. A diabetic dog urinates away a lot of energy-rich urine, so it is both hungry and thirsty and loses weight.
5 – Reduced exercise capacity- Watching your dog run wild and free is one of the great joys of being a pet owner. However, overweight dogs will have greater difficulty exercising and less capacity to do so. Less ability to exercise may lead to a greater risk of putting on weight and increase the risk of other health issues.
Why Are So Many Dogs Now Obese?
Like humans, diet and exercise will play a significant role in the overall health, well-being and weight of your pet. Examine your dog’s lifestyle and diet and identify areas where you might be able to make positive changes to improve their weight and overall health:
Exercise – Ensure your dogs are getting regular, good quality exercise. This should include a walk during the day but also an area for them to exercise or be active when you are not home.
Underlying Health Issues – If you are concerned about any underlying health issues that might be contributing to your dog’s weight gain visit a Holistic Vet to discuss your pet’s condition and a suitable treatment plan.
Diet High in Calories – Processed foods are high in carbohydrates, fillers and nutritionally useless calories, and while many commercial ‘treats’ may look small they can be very high in calories.
Additives – Additives in processed food can encourage dogs to keep eating, even after they’re physically full.
Too Much Fat – Most kibble is loaded with corn. This comes in many forms; corn dust, high fructose corn syrup, corn oil and it is fattening. Also, be mindful of cheaper cuts of raw meat loaded with fat. Your dog needs good fats from proteins to help with nerve and immune function as well as good skin health but not so much of it that it robs him of other important nutrients. You also need to consider how much you are feeding your fur baby.
How Can I Tell If My Dog Is Overweight?
One simple way to check if your dog might be overweight is to place your hands on the side of their chest. You should be able to feel his or her ribs. If not, this can be a sign that your dog is overweight. But of course, it’s good to pay a visit to your holistic vet if you are concerned.
Dog Breed and Weight Gain
Some breeds tend to pack on weight more easily than others. Dogs of the same size may need less or more food based on the activity level of their breed or personality. Here are a few examples of breeds prone to weight issues:
- Small – Cairn Terriers, Dachshunds, Scottish Terriers, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
- Medium – Beagles, Cocker Spaniels, Basset Hounds
- Large – Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Rottweilers
- Giant – Bernese Mountain Dogs, Newfoundlands, St. Bernards
Will Feeding Raw Help?
One of the many benefits of raw feeding is that the diet is lower in calories than commercial dry dog food. Switching your dog to a fresh raw food diet is one way to help your dog lose the excess weight. A species-appropriate diet will allow your pet’s metabolism to function at optimal levels meaning their life expectancy and overall health outlook is significantly better.
However, you still need to be mindful of overfeeding your dog as an overfed dog will gain weight. It’s important to know how much to feed your dog on a raw food diet. You can use our Meat Calculator as your starting point.
Also, remember it is important to combine a raw food diet with a regular exercise routine to help get your pet’s health and well-being back on track.
What Can I Do?
Worried about your pet’s weight? Contact us to discuss transitioning your dog onto a raw food diet or contact your Holistic Vet to discuss your dog’s individual health needs if you are concerned about any serious health issues related to their obesity.
- McGreevy PD, Thomson PC, Pride C, Fawcett A, Grassi T & Jones B. Prevalence of obesity in dogs examined by Australian veterinary practices and the risk factors involved. Vet Rec. 2005 May 28;156(22):695-702.