Doggos with extra fluff are undeniably adorable!
But beneath the cuteness could lie a serious health issue - OBESITY
Excess weight can lead to numerous health problems, such as joint stress, reduced energy, respiratory difficulties, metabolic and endocrine disorders, orthopedic diseases, diabetes, liver disease, and…
A DECREASED LIFESPAN.
Tackling dog obesity requires a combination of proper nutrition, regular exercise, and consistent monitoring. Here's a guide to help your pup embark on a healthier, happier life.
The Obesity Epidemic in Dogs
Obesity in dogs is defined as being overweight by 15 to 20 per cent of an ideal body weight.
The obesity epidemic in dogs is a matter of growing concern. Various factors contribute to this health crisis in dogs.
Here’s a detailed breakdown of the situation, with a spotlight on the Australian context:
In a study, it was reported that 41% of dogs and 32% of cats in Australia were overweight or downright obese.
In the United States, 59% of dogs and 61% of cats were classified as overweight or have obesity in 2022.
Why the Surge in Dog Obesity?
1. Owner Feeding Behavior
During the lockdowns in 2019-2020, 53% of pet parents have been giving their pets treats for no reason, which could be a key factor for the rise in pet obesity.
Giving excessive amounts of kibbles is fattening our furballs. Feeding commercial dog food (kibble) and/or leftovers of human meals coincided with being overweight; dogs fed (fully, or at least partly) with raw food were less likely to be overweight.
2. Lack of Awareness
In a 2022 survey in the US, nearly one-third (32%) of owners of overweight or obese pets (BCS 6-9) classified their pet as “normal” or “ideal” body condition when asked by their veterinary professional.
This misperception can prevent owners from recognizing the problem and taking action to manage their pet’s weight. Without a proper understanding and awareness, it becomes challenging for pet owners to provide the necessary care to maintain their dogs’ health.
3. Breed Predisposition
Certain dog breeds show a higher predisposition to obesity. Breeds like Cairn terriers, West Highland white terriers, Scottish terriers, Shetland sheepdogs, basset hounds, Cavalier King Charles spaniels, dachshunds, beagles, cocker spaniels, and Labrador retrievers are more prone to becoming overweight.
As dogs age, their lean body mass decreases, which leads to a reduction in their daily energy needs. If their food intake doesn't decrease accordingly, they can gain weight. This is especially true for dogs older than seven years, who may experience a decline in metabolism and physical activity.
5. Effects of Neutering
Neutering a dog affects its hormonal balance, leading to a slower metabolism. This change can predispose neutered dogs to weight gain, as the satiety centre in the brain and the hormonal regulators of food intake are affected.
Certain medications, like phenobarbital (an anticonvulsant) and glucocorticoids, can contribute to obesity in dogs. These medications can stimulate appetite or promote fat deposition and weight gain.
Is Your Dog a Fatty?
Determining whether your dog is overweight involves several steps and, ideally, a consultation with a veterinarian. Here are some guidelines to help assess your dog's weight:
A. Visual Assessment
Look at your dog from above. A dog in healthy weight should have an observable waistline when viewed from above. If your dog's body appears more oval or rounded, it might be overweight.
View your dog from the side. A dog's abdomen should tuck up from the chest to the hind legs. If the belly is sagging or dragging, it may indicate excess weight.
B. Physical Examination
Feel your dog's ribs. You should be able to easily feel the ribs without pressing hard, although they shouldn't be visible.
Check for other bony prominences like the spine, hips, and shoulders; you should be able to feel them with a slight fat covering.
C. Body Condition Score (BCS)
Veterinarians often use a body condition score to evaluate a dog’s body weight. The scoring system usually ranges from 1 to 9, with 1 being underweight, 4-5 being ideal, and 9 being obese.
D. Weigh Your Dog
If you suspect your dog is overweight, consult a vet for a professional assessment. Your vet can provide recommendations to help manage your dog’s weight and rule out any underlying health issues contributing to weight gain.
Health Implications of Dog Obesity
Excess weight in dogs can lead to a multitude of health problems, including skin disorders, respiratory difficulties, metabolic and endocrine disorders, orthopedic diseases, and certain types of cancer.
The list is very extensive!
Certain breeds with elongated and low statures may experience added stress on their backs and joints due to obesity, potentially leading to discomfort or challenges in walking or sitting. Additionally, other breeds could be more susceptible to breathing and respiratory issues when overweight.
Being overweight or obese can also significantly reduce a dog's lifespan.
How Much Exercise Does an Overweight Dog Need?
A minimum of 30 minutes to 2 hours of daily exercise that elevates the heart rate is recommended. However, ensuring these activities are not overly strenuous is crucial, particularly for dogs with medical conditions.
For an overweight dog, a tailored exercise plan is necessary.
Before beginning any new fitness regimen, it's important to consult with a veterinarian for advice on safe and suitable exercises. If you and your senior dog want to increase the daily duration, do so gradually, such as adding 5-minute daily intervals.
Aim for low-impact exercises and be sure to change up their routine, including activities that also provide mental stimulation.
TIP: Start slowly and gradually increasing activity as the dog loses weight.
Common exercises include walking, running, swimming, or hiking. Dog sports like agility can also be a great way to burn calories and improve the bond between you and your dog.
Here’s a guide on how much exercise a dog needs based on their breed:
IMPORTANT NOTE: Always monitor your dog's condition during exercise, and slow down or stop if they show excessive panting or discomfort.
The Role of Nutrition in Weight Management in Dogs
Weight management in dogs needs a balance of 70% diet and 30% exercise.
A more nutritious diet could save dog owners tens of millions of dollars in medical costs. Yet, there's a disconnect: Lack of awareness from pet parents.
Experts advise against solely relying on commercial dog food package guidelines, especially in spayed or neutered dogs whose energy requirements are lower by 20-30%.
A nutritious diet including lean proteins and fresh vegetables is recommended, such as:
Chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, and spinach
Note: Dogs do not necessarily require grains in their diet but need carbohydrates.
But overfeeding carbohydrates, particularly from tapioca, peas, lentils, and potatoes, can cause obesity, inflammation, diabetes, and other metabolic issues.
This is a glaring oversight often not addressed in veterinary circles.
Managing Your Dog's Weight
Properly managing your dog's weight requires a holistic approach and involves several strategies:
Caloric Restriction: When a dog consumes fewer calories than it expends, it will start to use stored fat for energy, leading to weight loss. However, you must still ensure that the diet meets all your dog's nutritional requirements.
Reducing Portion Size: The key is consistency and measuring food portions accurately. Many dog owners inadvertently overfeed their pets by not measuring portions or by giving additional snacks and treats, which can add substantial calories.
Minimizing Feeding Frequency: You can control the overall intake more effectively by setting specific meal times and sticking to them. It's also thought that scheduled feeding can help regulate a dog’s metabolism and digestion.
Raw Feeding: This involves feeding dogs a diet of raw meat, bones, fruits, and vegetables. These diets are often higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates, which promote satiety to help dogs feel fuller for longer.
It's important to execute these strategies without inducing malnutrition or nutrient deficiencies. A weight loss supplement is highly recommended to ensure your dog gets all the essential daily nutrients, even with feeding restrictions or dietary changes.
A HOLISTIC APPROACH WEIGHT MANAGEMENT FOR DOGS
Help your dog achieve a healthier weight with Vitalixir PLUS Weight Loss, a powerful supplement that ensures your furry friend gets all the essential nutrients while on a calorie-controlled diet.
Vitalixir PLUS Weight Loss contains:
Omega-3 from fish oil: Enhances metabolism, helping convert fat to energy more efficiently.
MCT Oil: Boosts metabolism and energy, aiding in weight loss and promoting cognitive health
L-Carnitine: Enhances fat-to-energy conversion, which is crucial for promoting exercise and being active
White Kidney Bean: Acts as a carb blocker, effectively reducing calorie intake
Vitamins, Minerals, and Amino Acids: Provides nutritional support even with caloric restrictions
Weight Loss For Dogs - Starter Pack - Vitalixir PLUS
Vitalixir PLUS Weight Loss takes a holistic approach to your dog’s weight management. It combines essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids to ensure your dog's overall health while helping them shed those extra pounds. Our supplement allows you to safely reduce their daily calorie intake without compromising their well-being. Help your dog battle obesity and live a healthier life with Vitalixir PLUS Weight Loss.
The canine obesity crisis is a pressing issue that requires immediate attention. By embracing a healthier diet, engaging in regular exercise, and bridging the communication and knowledge gap, your furry friends can lead healthier, longer lives.