It’s no secret that being overweight has serious consequences for your own health. What you might not realize is that dogs also suffer when their waistline is wider than their hips and shoulders. Keep reading for insight on the five most common health problems dogs experience due to chronic obesity and what you can do to help your dog get fit starting today.
1. Breathing problems
Dogs who are forced to carry around excess weight put additional strain on their heart and lungs.
2. Systemic inflammation
Systemic inflammation can cause detrimental health effects and make it difficult for your dog to ward off other health conditions, including reproductive and urinary disorders. The Journal of Nutrition links systemic inflammation to metabolic syndrome.
3. Intervertebral disc disease
Smaller dog breeds, especially those with a long midsection and elongated body such as dachshunds and corgis, are at a higher risk of severe disc extrusion that can lead to long-term mobility issues and may require surgical intervention.
4. Arthritis and hip dysplasia
Joint issues are common in overweight dogs. Large breeds, such as the labrador and boxer, are especially vulnerable. Hip dysplasia and arthritis are painful conditions that can lead to lameness. Boneo offers more about canine obesity and its effects on your dog’s mobility.
Not only do added pounds alter your dog’s quality of life, but they also may reduce their longevity by two years or more, according to the Cummings Veterinary Medicine Center at Tufts University.
While these health problems are dire, the vast majority of dogs will see a significant improvement in symptoms simply by losing a few pounds. But, unlike us, your dog can’t do it on his own. There are many things you can do to encourage a healthy and active lifestyle that will benefit both you and your pet.
Measure your dog’s food to ensure they are being fed the proper amount. It is very common for dogs to be given open access to food. However, just 10 extra bites each day can increase your dog’s weight by one pound each year.
Walk your dog regularly. If it isn’t already, walking your dog should be part of your daily routine. The amount of exercise they need is dependent upon age, breed, and overall temperament. The most active breeds require at least 30 minutes of intense aerobic exercise every 24 hours, so make sure to play with your pet after a stroll through the neighborhood. If you’re going to the dog park for exercise, make sure to bring a portable dog bowl along to prevent dehydration and heat exhaustion. Always keep your dog on a leash or lead when in public. Choose a leash and collar that’s comfortable for your dog and easy for you to use. Picking the right set will make your walks that much more rewarding.
Create a designated activity space for your dog. If you don’t have a fenced backyard and can’t dedicate time each evening for exercise, give your dog a space where he can run and play. A dog run, which HomeAdvisor notes should be at least 10 feet wide and cover the entire length of your yard, is preferable over a cable run, since an enclosed area allows for freedom of movement.
Talk to your veterinarian to create a weight-loss program. While losing weight seems like a relatively simple process, it isn’t. Dropping pounds is not simply a matter of burning more calories than you take in. Work with your veterinarian to come up with a plan that works for your dog. He or she may suggest a physical exam and blood tests to rule out underlying medical conditions. If your dog is significantly overweight, they may be prescribed nutritional supplements or put on a special diet.
As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to make sure that your dog remains healthy and happy. Managing his weight is one of the most important things you can do to ensure just that.
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