Obesity is a serious condition, not only in humans, but also in animals. The negative impact of obesity on the health of a dog reduces both the quality and duration of its life.
Experts estimate that approximately 50% of companion animals kept in Western countries are overweight. That’s a lot of portly pooches! The main factor is an inappropriate diet. Many pet owners are unaware of how unhealthy their dog’s diet is. That leads to many animals consuming more calories than they expend.
Sarah Ross, lead expert for the FOUR PAWS Companion Animals Programme explained: “Dry food contains nutrients in concentrated form. A small portion is usually sufficient for a dog or a cat, often portion sizes can lead to an animal becoming obese, particularly if it does not receive sufficient exercise.”
According to the charity, it is also important to consider the cumulative effect of “treats”, as these may provide a significant source of calories in their own right, which can lead to weight gain.
Other important factors leading to obesity include a lack of physical exercise, a lack of agility in older animals and/or a genetic pre-disposition towards obesity in certain breeds. If an owner can’t feel ribs under the layer of fat or is unable to see the waist of their pet then it is imperative that action is taken. Obesity causes numerous negative health effects, such as shortness of breath, joint and cardiovascular problems and even diabetes.
To help owners avoid this scenario, FOUR PAWS has issued 5 easy measures that can be undertaken to keep a healthy dog:
- make sensible adjustments to the pet’s diet after consultation with your vet
- ask your vet to advise you on an optimal exercise level for your pet. It is important to implement a gradual progression of the length and intensity of exercise.
- walk your dog more often
- play active games with your pet
Obesity is a problem, but it is not insurmountable, and, with the correct diet and exercise regime, dogs can live long and active lives.