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The Big Fat Truth About Canine Obesity
Changing our own habits can help our dogs live longer


Obesity in dogs could be considered a perception problem—a human perception problem. While a whopping 34 percent of dogs are overweight, only around 30 to 40 percent of the folks who put the food in the bowl for them know it. Canine obesity can cause or worsen musculoskeletal problems, exercise intolerance, cardiovascular problems and glucose tolerance imbalances. It also weakens the immune system and increases the risks of anesthesia; during certain surgical procedures, it can increase heat sensitivity.


Need more? The worst thing about dogs is that they don’t live long enough. Canine lifespan has been extended by as much as two years when the dogs are kept lean, and that’s the kind of life insurance we can all buy.


Why Are Dogs Fat?

What makes dogs fat? There’s the obvious answer—too many calories, not enough exercise—but that’s an oversimplification. Canine and human lifestyle issues, as well as human psychology, carry most of the blame, although hormone imbalances (see Balancing Act below), reproductive status and genetics play minor roles.


For most overweight dogs, the real culprit is a combination of free-feeding, boredom and not enough playtime. And then there’s the psychological component. No, don’t call the doggie shrink, because it’s not the dog’s psyche; it’s the psyche of the person who’s responsible for leaving a big bowl of dog food available all day and cutting the half-hour walk down to a five-minute backyard potty break.


Furthermore, although dogs of any breed (or mix) can be overweight, research shows that dogs of certain breeds are more prone to being overweight than others, which suggests a genetic component. These breeds include Cocker Spaniels, Labrador and Golden Retrievers, Basset Hounds, Shetland Sheepdogs, and Dachshunds.


Does spaying and neutering make your dog fat? Of course not. But there is a connection between how many calories a dog requires and reproductive status. This doesn’t mean that being altered “makes” your dog fat; it means that spayed and neutered dogs, as well as older dogs, generally require fewer calories and/or more exercise to maintain a healthy weight. As your dog ages, and after altering, you need to be especially aware of weight gain, and act immediately to reduce caloric intake and increase activity levels if necessary.


Healthy Weight Loss

While healthy, permanent weight loss in humans is hard to achieve, it’s much easier with dogs. They don’t eat a container of Ben and Jerry’s after a stressful day, and they rarely hit the drive-through instead of making a healthy dinner. As long as the human in the relationship manages not to overfeed and under-exercise the dog, weight-loss programs for canines are surprisingly successful.


Before getting started, head to the vet and make sure your dog doesn’t have medical issues that might be affected by a weight-loss and exercise program. Than ask your vet to help you calculate a reasonable caloric intake for your dog. Aim for a loss of no more than 1 to 2 percent of body weight per week.




CommentsPost a Comment
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Submitted by Anonymous | June 14 2012 |

This wasn't very helpful. My dog started gaining weight after being spayed. She was always a healthy 16-17 lbs. At 5 years old she had a (planned) litter, and then when pups were weaned, we had her spayed. Since then (6 months) she's gained 4 lbs. She gets just as much exercise as before and we have her on a high protein low carb diet (all stages Into the Wild brand). Thought this article give information as to cause of continued weight gain. It wasn't helpful.

Submitted by Anonymous | June 15 2012 |

Reduce the amount of food you give her, she shoud not be on a high protein low carb diet. Feed her a lamb and rice base dog food. Trust me this works - less food = weight loss....

Submitted by wei | July 11 2014 |

My dog neutered when he was 8mo.
after that, he start to obese. I only gave him 2 times meal.
each meal, 1 or 3/4 cup of premium kibble, 1 cup of homemade meal (beef, veggies, and potatoes / sweet potatoes), plus one medium sized boiled sweet potatoes.
He got mostly twice walk a day. (15min walk in the morning, 15 walk in the afternoon, and 15min play fetch in tennis court). We can't get him a long walk, since the enviroment here not like western countries. People mostly don't like dog, especially big and intimidating dog like rottweiler.
Also we got 3 rott in house, so he always can play with the other dog.
Not a type of dog who got under exercised.

He weigh 48KG,now 20mo . He has small butt and belly, but, big shoulder which make him looks so fat. Some doctor say he is overweight. but some say its big bone.

Less food (1 cup only each meal, twice a day) and make him starving badly, only make him goes crazy for food, and become guarding it over other dog. which is basically normal, since he rarely feed, he considered food as a very high value item.

I feed him homemade, so he get the same amount of calories, while in bigger portion, which will satisfied his appetite. Full with pumpkin, carrot, and sweet potatoes, LOL.

BUT, He never loss his weighttt!!!!
really its make me so devastated.
45min exercise and 2 times carefully measured calories-meal cannot make him leaner.
what should I do.

Submitted by Doyp | September 10 2014 |

I think that getting neutered at 8 months was your doges problem. Getting neutered makes doges grow faster.

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