According to an extensive survey undertaken by The Association of Pet Obesity Prevention, it was discovered that pet obesity, especially the type most associated with dogs, was the number one most preventable medical condition — with an estimated 50% of pets in North America alone being considered overweight.
Obesity may be more prominent within certain dog breeds, but the ailment can affect any dog, perhaps more worryingly, from any age.
This article will explore how detrimental obesity can be for a dog and what can be done to improve their health.
What is pet obesity?
Pet obesity is a medical condition that occurs when a dog accumulates too much fat, which in turn begins to collate around and within the body, leading to an increase in weight that is deemed beyond the acceptable level for a healthy canine.
Referring to an article from Pet MD, many dog breeds are far more likely to suffer from obesity. However, leading experts often state that excessive weight gain can affect any canine, just as it can affect most mammals in general.
What causes pet obesity?
In dogs, there are three leading causes of obesity.
The first relates to their diet, with specialists recommending specific dog food over fattier variants.
The second relates to a lack of exercise, whereby a dog isn’t provided sufficient activity. So their metabolism will slow down, resulting in fat build-up and storage.
The third type relates to genetic tendencies, such as those relating to the dog’s breed and age.
It is essential to keep an eye on their diet, activity, and weight from a young age to avoid any health complications as pets get older.
By doing so, not only will canines likely enjoy a healthier, happier way of life, but it could even extend their lifespan in the process, too, as obesity is responsible for the death of thousands of dogs around the world each year.
A dog’s diet
Before passing potatoes and snacks from the table to an eager pup laying in wait, it’s important to remember that dogs are carnivores. Based on findings from the RSPCA, a clean, nutritious diet should be the priority for a dog.
It’s also important to note that these pets are closely related to wolves, and these predators won’t be found snacking on cakes, biscuits, or the occasional ice cream.
Instead, they’ll devour the rawest form of meat to obtain as much protein as possible, which is converted into muscle and energy, and dogs possess the same type of metabolism even with their domesticated differences.
This is why experts recommend investing in protein-rich, organic types of food for dogs, where the more natural the ingredients, the more prominent the benefits can be.
An active lifestyle
Dogs aren’t supposed to be sedentary. Studies by Huntington have proven that a dog’s body can quickly begin to suffer as its muscles stiffen, and they find themselves suffering from weak ligaments and worse.
Over time, this can be detrimental to their health as they will likely begin to gain weight, which can trigger a host of medical conditions.
To combat obesity from as early on as possible, experts recommend taking dogs for daily walks at least three times a day, or when possible, an extended run to get their heart pumping, their blood flowing, and their metabolism working efficiently.
By combining an active lifestyle with a protein-rich diet, a dog could enjoy a healthy body and mind while keeping fatty cells at bay.
Unfortunately, biology can’t be denied, especially concerning breeds such as labradors, pugs, rottweilers, and other sometimes-podgy puppies. With that in mind, some things can be done by responsible pet owners to reduce the chances of obesity affecting pets.
Two of those options are mentioned above, but it’s possible to research the types of things contributing to weight gain for a specific dog breed.
For example, ingredients like glycerine can promote fat retention in dogs, while carbohydrate-rich products like potatoes can have a similar effect when consumed excessively.
A dog might only be around for a portion of a person’s life, but that person will be there for the entirety of theirs, and that’s why it’s so important to pull out all of the stops to keep them healthy and active.
Doing the best from day one
The sooner a pet’s weight is controlled by providing them with exercise, a healthy diet, and an active lifestyle, the better off they will be as they age.
It’s been suggested that starting as young as possible is the best option, with experts saying that a strategic plan of action from puppyhood onwards is the most effective solution to prevent pet obesity.
With that being said, no matter a dog’s age, immediate changes could be introduced to their lifestyle that will benefit them, and there are even weight-loss options and food types for older dogs to help give them a new lease on life.
Without making an effort, obesity could be detrimental to a dog’s overall well-being, with many medical ailments linked to the condition.
With solutions available, pet owners can reclaim control of their pet’s weight and nurture them on a path to health.