Like humans, pets need a balanced diet, regular exercise, and sufficient rest. These factors are critical in their nutrition, fitness, and overall health. An animal that leads a poor lifestyle is likely to face health problems and live a shorter, less happy life. To prevent adverse health effects, passionate pet owners are investing in their pet’s health needs. They provide their pets with exercise equipment or vegetarian dog food.
Plump puppies look cute, but heath-wise, a lean body is better. The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging not only for us but also for our pets. The changes in our normal lifestyle have taken their toll on our furry companions, especially their activity level and eating habits. This affected the quality of their life, causing a large majority of dogs to gain weight.
In recent years, canine obesity has become a prevalent issue among pets. It’s a nutritional disease characterized by excess body fat that has severe health effects such as arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease. To shed light on the health realities of weight gain in dogs, we’ll take a look at the causes and how to prevent canine obesity.
What is canine obesity?
Obesity is a common nutritional disease among dogs. It refers to the accumulation of excess body fat when the energy intake exceeds energy expenditure. Fat is a relatively inactive tissue that stores excess energy calories, adding up the body mass. But recent scientific evidence revealed that fatty tissues are biologically active. This means that they’re capable of secreting inflammatory hormones and creating oxidative stress within the tissue, resulting in various diseases.
This type of nutritional disease links to a range of serious health diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease, poor mobility, and a shorter life span.
When left unchecked, weight gain in pets causes plenty of challenges for pet owners. Treatment requires changes in lifestyle not just for the pet but also for the owners themselves. In the U.S., obesity is a common preventable disease among dogs. Around 25 to 30% of dogs are obese, with 40 to 45% of them are between ages 5 to 11 years old that weigh higher than normal.
Causes and symptoms of obesity
Plenty of factors contribute to obesity in dogs. The most common culprit is the energy imbalance between intake and use, where the dog consumes more calories than they spend.
A pet’s irregular lifestyle can be an environmental factor in why a dog gains weight. Most pet owners have a habit of overfeeding their feeds to satisfy their whims. Overfeeding involves dietary factors, such as meal frequency, number of treats, high-fat foods, and diet variation.
Lack of physical fitness is also another common cause. Certain dog breeds require more exercise than others. These include retrievers, collies, pointers, spaniels, and German shepherds. But some breeds are also prone to obesity, such as beagles, dachshunds, and Labrador retrievers. They require training and variation in routines to keep their bodies lean.
Age also contributes to weight gain. Dogs beyond five years old are prone to obesity because of decreased voluntary activity and fewer calories burned daily.
Dogs that underwent surgery, particularly neutering (male) or spaying (female), lead to gradual weight gain. The procedure causes the sex hormone to decrease production, which lowers the energy expenditure, causing the dog to feel hungry more often.
Even medications also accelerate overeating, such as glucocorticoids and phenobarbital. Chronic diseases also have links to weight gain, such as hypothyroidism, insulinoma, and hyperadrenocorticism.
Treatment for canine obesity
As with humans, there are also proven methods to help dogs slim down. First, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian to ensure the sudden weight gain is not due to any underlying disease or health problem. Also, try reducing your dog’s calorie intake and consider changing their food. You can ask the vet for the best options.
Keeping a food diary is necessary for any weight-loss program. Monitor the amount of kibble you’re feeding using a measuring cup. Prevent free-feeding the food, instead set a regular schedule for feeding time. You can also reduce between-meal snacks to avoid adding up the calories.
The most effective technique you can do is to set a consistent exercise routine with your dog. This may also require you to change your lifestyle so that you can do different activities with your dog together.
Anything too much is not healthy. This also applies to pets that are prone to becoming overweight or obese. Although it’s nice to cuddle a cute, plump dog, keep in mind that too much fat in their bodies leads to adverse health effects, causing them to live a shorter lifespan. So get those toys ready and get your pet moving.