December 10, 2014

Is My Dog Obese?

Hi DoggyBaggers, my name is Dr Oliver Conradi a veterinarian working in Sydney. I will be bringing you blogs about some of the most important nutritional topics regarding our furry four legged friends. Remember if you have any concerns for your dog’s health and weight, or want to discuss these topics in more detail be sure to book a visit with your veterinarian. 

Prevalence of Obesity

I believe obesity to be one of the most common and important preventable diseases affecting dogs and cats in the modern world. In recent years, as has been seen in humans, obesity rates have been on the rise in dog and cat populations.

Perception Of Obesity

The public’s perception of what is considered a ‘normal’ weight for a dog has become skewed. This is likely due to the high proportion of the dog population now being overweight. Dogs that are actually overweight are often perceived to have a normal or healthy weight, and a dog that actually has a healthy weight may be perceived by some as being underweight. 

Is My Dog Obese?

Dogs come in a wide rage of shapes and sizes with a huge range of dog breeds existing meaning it can be hard to know what is a healthy weight for your dog. A few basic rules can be used to assess whether or not your dog is overweight. Regardless of breed, a dog with a healthy weight will have the following features:

  • The ribs and spine should be easily felt and not buried underneath excess fat.
  • When viewed from above, the dog should have a waist which tapers in. The abdomen should not bulge out at the sides.
  • When viewed from the side, the underside of the dog’s abdomen should slope up towards the pelvis. It should not hang or sag.


Obesity And Other Diseases

In recent years research has made us think differently about obesity and the way excess amounts of fat behaves within the body. Excess fat is able to produce hormones and chemical factors which stimulate inflammatory processes. Inflammation is an important process that helps our bodies fight off infections and allows it to undergo healing.  However, if it occurs on a global level in the body and for extended periods of time, it can have negative impacts for health. 

We have known for a long time that obesity is a risk factor for a wide range of diseases and certain cancers in dogs and humans. It is now thought that the chronic state of inflammation that is present within obese animals and humans is directly involved with causing cancer. Other diseases that obese dogs are at a higher risk of developing include diabetes and arthritis. 

Excess weight puts undue pressure and strain on joints, making obese dogs more prone to arthritis and also hastens its progression. Obesity not only makes certain diseases more likely, but also shortens the life span of obese dogs. Studies have shown that dogs fed on calorie-restricted diets have longer life spans when compared with dogs that have free access to food. 

These are just a few of the multitude of negative health consequences associated with obesity. It is critically important to feed your dog a diet that is tailored to their individual energy requirements in order to maintain a healthy weight.

Dr Oliver Conradi graduated from the University of Sydney with 1st Class Honours and currently works as a Vet in Lindfield, NSW.  He grew up with dogs and cats, and had a love and keen interest for science and biology as a child. He decided to become a veterinarian and discovered his passion after seeing the great work veterinarians carry out during a two month backpacking trip through Africa.

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