Heathside Veterinary Surgery Blog

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Health implications for obesity in dogs

We have discussed previously what is an ideal bodyweight for your dog and how to assess his condition. But do you know fully why it is important for your pet to be an ideal size for his breed?

We all love a cuddly pooch but what are these extra kilos doing to his underlying health? 

What are the knock on effects of carrying extra poundage? 

We all know someone who's health is affected by their weight and it is no different for our dogs. Two major health implications that spring to mind when talking about excessive weight are osteoarthritis and diabetes (insulin resistance).

Extra weight on the body puts joints under pressure causing joint damage and the more weight that is carried  increases the damage beening done to the joints. The upshot is the more damage there is to the joints the more pain that is likely to be experienced by your pet. He slows down because of the pain but continues to eat the same quantity of food; he puts on more weight because he cannot exercise without being in pain...so it becomes a vicious circle.

Diabetes in itself leads to a whole host of problems and  deserves a blog to itself; but suffice to say you want to avoid diabetes at all costs if you can.

Other problems include exercise intolerance and reduced stamina, increased likelihood of heart disease, compromised liver function and liver disease, heat intolerance, hypertension (high blood pressure), lower immune system function, respiratory compromise... I could go on... Increased risk of cancer, developing malignant tumours...I'll stop there...you have got my drift.

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An average sized male Labrador ideally should weigh in at between 30-36 kg. But if he weighs in at 48 kg he is anything between 12-18 kg over ideal weight! Putting that in pounds that is between 26-39 lbs! Or 2-3 stone over ideal weight! As a percentage (and I'm going to use averages here because my maths is rubbish) this is 20-30% over ideal weight. Scary isn't it?

A gain of a kilo (a couple of pounds) of fat is enough to put significant stress on your dogs body; as a result of being overweight our dogs will have a poorer quality of life and a shorter life expectancy.

It is vital to the health and well being of your pet therefore to prevent weight gain in the first instance or to take steps to ensure they lose any excess safely.

So what can you as an owner do about excess weight in your pooch?

Yes I'm afraid it's that dreaded word...DIET! A restricted food diet alongside an exercise plan will ensure that your dog will have the best opportunity to return to a healthy body condition. In fact there are complete diet foods that help to increase your pets metabolic rate to promote weight loss...just ask your vet.

Even a pet with any of the above conditions who is over weight will benefit from this regime. However do seek veterinarian advise before you start;  by following  a careful plan with regular health and weight checks, this will benefit your pets age, weight and breed. This way you should avoid any surprises.

Without a doubt you will be putting your pet's health on the road to to a better future if you take action sooner rather than later.

Nervous? Feel you need help to get this kick started? Heathside Veterinary Surgery run free weight management clinics. Our qualified nurses are able to assess your pets weight and body score; then recommend a feeding programme to help your pet reach a healthy target weight safely.

After all we love our pets and want to keep them for as long possible...and  as healthy as possible.

Danielle Giles

Heathside Veterinary Surgery