Obesity – Health Risks and Prevention

Sadly, obesity: the presence of excess body fat resulting in an overweight condition is becoming a common problem here in the UK. Vets estimate that nearly half of dogs in the UK are overweight! Being obese puts your dog’s life at risk, increasing the risk of health problems, which is likely to reduce life expectancy. It is important that you know what your dog’s ideal shape is and recognise when this shape changes. You control the food intake and exercise for your pet and can adjust this as required to maintain the ideal weight. Like humans, weight increases when more energy is taken than used.

Signs to look for that your dog is overweight;

• Struggling to feel or see your dog’s ribs, spine, or to see a waistline.
• Saggy tummy, big neck, and a chubby face.
• They are less active on walks, wanting shorter walks, not keeping up with the owner and family.
• Generally panting more, and you notice increasing tiredness, not playing with you or their toys as much.
• Help is needed to get in and out of the car, upstairs or onto the sofa.

What are the medical and health risks for overweight dogs?

• A reduced lifespan
• Arthritis
• Urine incontinence
• Back problems
• Cruciate ligament injuries
• Breathing problems
• Cancer
• Heatstroke
• Risk of muscular injuries
• Diabetes
• Heart disease

Excess fat in the body leads to kidney disease and high blood pressure.

Please contact your vet if you are worried about your dog’s weight. They can help you set up a weight management program, including diet and exercise, offering support as this is a hard journey.

Ways to prevent obesity.

Increasing exercise, taking more frequent walks, taking up a canine activity such as hoopers or agility. For non weight bearing exercises, look at hydrotherapy until your dog is able to progress to other activities. Regularly weighing your dog, restricting treats, looking at a low fat diet, and using healthy treats such as raw carrot or cabbage, etc, will assist weight loss.

If you would like to talk to Sarah Bunce about exercising your dog, get in touch.

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