Is my dog too fat? What does it mean?
Overweight in dogs is often caused by too much food in combination with a lack of exercise. As soon as body fat accumulates, weight increases. If your dog is too fat, this can have unpleasant consequences.
Obesity in dogs, like in humans, can cause all sorts of problems and injuries. For example, an overweight dog has more trouble moving around, which puts more strain on his joints. This can lead, among other things, to osteoarthritis. This kind of infection of the joints makes exercise and losing weight even more difficult. So is your dog too heavy? In this blog we will zoom in on the causes and consequences of obesity in dogs and the question 'when is a dog overweight?
Causes of overweight dogs
As with humans, the dog's body stores fat as soon as more calories are consumed than are burned. This is caused by overeating and/or lack of exercise. Other factors that can cause obesity are age, the breed of dog, castration or sterilisation and illness.
Older dogs are generally less active because exercise is more difficult. It is also known that some breeds are more susceptible to gaining weight quickly. Labradors, for example, are often overweight. Spaying and neutering can increase a dog's appetite and cause it to burn fewer calories than usual. A diet can indeed limit the amount of weight gain. Finally, a disorder can also be a cause of excess weight. Think of a poorly functioning thyroid gland.
Consequences of being overweight
Overweight dogs are more likely to have health problems of various kinds. Overweight dogs have a general risk of a shortened life expectancy. This is due to poorer condition and sluggishness. Finally, excess fat presses on the airways and the heart, making movement more difficult. This in turn leads to an increased risk of heart and lung problems. Overweight dogs also have an increased risk of bladder problems and diabetes. As a result of fatty liver, a dog's liver will increasingly store fat in its liver cells. This can result in increased tiredness and pain in the stomach.
As we have already seen, overweight dogs also develop osteoarthritis in the long term. Bone and joint problems make movement more difficult and painful. As a result, dogs are less able or willing to exercise, which does not help their obesity. Dogs with a lot of fat under the skin are also more difficult to operate and therefore have a significantly increased risk of surgery and anaesthesia. Finally, most overweight dogs develop skin and coat problems and the risk of overheating in hot weather is much higher. In short, overweight dogs face many risks.
When is a dog overweight?
In 2020, around 35% of dogs were overweight. According to experts, this percentage increases every year. This is not good news when you think about the consequences mentioned earlier. Many people are not aware of all the risks or of when they are overweight in the first place.
The ideal weight for a dog depends on its size, age, breed and level of activity. Should you suspect that your dog is overweight, it is wise to visit your vet. Your vet will be able to tell you what the ideal weight for your dog is and will be able to do a weight check. If your dog is determined to be overweight, a special diet, more exercise or a regular check-up may be recommended.
It is important that your dog's diet and activity are and remain in balance. An extra walk or workout can do no harm. A dog treadmill offers your dog the opportunity to build up condition and lose weight in a responsible way, without overloading the muscles. With the help of a Dogmills treadmill, your overweight dog can walk in a straight line and control the distance and speed. Would you like to know how you can help your dog lose weight? We will give you tips in the next blog.