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Losing Weight Improves Quality of Life
Pounds shed relates to less pain, more energy

Being overweight affects our dogs’ health and longevity, and a recent study has examined the effect it has on quality of life. In a study in Great Britain, where it is estimated that a third of all dogs are obese, researchers investigated the change in quality of life of dogs who have lost weight.

They found that dogs who lose weight had a corresponding increase in their quality of life. They showed greater vitality and experienced less pain. The more weight they lost, the greater the improvement was in these measures of quality of life. Interestingly, those dogs who did not lose weight over the course of the study had lower quality of life scores at the start of the study compared with those dogs who were able to shed some excess pounds.

If you have a dog who has successfully lost weight, what changes did you notice in your dog’s quality of life?

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Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

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Submitted by Diana B | April 27 2012 |

A few years ago, I adopted a Cocker who weighed 34 pounds, when she should have weighed 23-25 pounds. She couldn't/wouldn't walk more than a block, couldn't always jump up onto the bed, and didn't have enough energy to chase the ball more than a few times. She's ten pounds lighter now, can easily cover a 45-minute walk, and can chase the tennis ball far longer than I care to throw it!

She came from a loving owner who blamed the avocado tree in the backyard for the dogs' obesity, but avocados don't fall year round; the dogs were overfed, and of course, Cockers are very food driven, so they ate whatever they were given. I often think of the other Cocker she had who wasn't up for adoption. He was even more overweight and an email from the owner subsequently tells me he's gained still more. It's sad and awful how we love our dogs to death.

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