5 Common Culprits in Canine Obesity

Friday, May 14, 2021 14:25:41 PM America/Los_Angeles

Nothing is quite as adorable as a chubby puppy, but canine obesity is an issue that can lead to more serious health complications down the line. As your dog grows, an appropriate weight for their size and breed should be maintained in order to ensure long term health. 

Photo by James Lacy

Is it bad for dogs to be obese?

Dog obesity may not pose an immediate problem, but it can hugely affect your dog’s health overtime. Obesity negatively impacts heart health, joint functioning, and even their lifespan! More weight can put undue stress on your pup’s joints, which can lead to arthritis. Obesity also predisposes dogs to heart, liver, and kidney disease.

How do I tell if my dog is obese?

A variety of factors go into determining obesity such as their age, breed, and gender, so appearance is not the best way to judge your dog’s weight. One clear sign that your dog’s weight is becoming an issue is if you notice that they start having difficulty doing daily activities like walking, playing, or using their dog potty

A simple and common test for obesity is to check your dog’s ribs. Standing behind your dog, gently feel their ribcage to see if you can feel the individual ribs. You should be able to feel them but not see them. Check with your vet if you’re not sure whether or not your dog is a healthy weight. 

What causes dog obesity? 

  • Natural predisposition: Certain dogs can be predisposed to obesity depending on their breed, age, gender, and/or individual genetics. For example, as dogs age their metabolism naturally slows down, causing weight gain.  
  • Diet or unhealthy eating habits: Unfortunately, not all pet food is made equal. Many foods on the market today contain unhealthy ingredients that can lead to obesity. Feeding dogs table scraps only adds to the problem, as human food is made with fats and grains that are not naturally part of a dog’s diet. Replace table scraps with wholesome treats so your dog can still have a lil’ something extra.   
  • Lack of exercise: Modern life can make regular exercise difficult for both you and your dog. With our hectic schedules, playing with your pup for the minimum 30-60 minutes a day can be hard to swing. If you’re unable to go for longer walks, playtime at home or an interactive toy is still a great way to get your dog moving around!
  • Illness: Sometimes a lack of exercise is not anyone’s fault. If your fur baby is struggling with an illness or injury that prevents movement, they may gain weight as a result. In this event, check with your vet to see how you can keep your dog at a healthy weight while they recover. We also recommend a real bark pee pad like Bark Potty to make going to the bathroom easier until they can safely go out. 
  • Medication: Medications can have a variety of undesirable side effects, including weight gain. Because the medication is likely an important part of your dog’s regimen, consider squeezing in some extra playtime (if appropriate) and adjusting their diet, under your vet’s guidance. 

Sometimes a small change is all it takes. Other times, there are uncontrollable circumstances that make maintaining a healthy weight for your dog challenging. Whatever the reason, learning about dog obesity can help prevent health issues from developing. It’s always better to take preventive action than to resolve a problem! If you still feel unsure about what steps should be taken, your vet can always help guide you and your fur baby to a healthier lifestyle.