“But Doctor, yet he doesn’t eat much!” “. A phrase that the veterinarian often hears, following the announcement of excess weight in your little companion. Today, 1 in 5 dogs suffers from obesity. So let’s find out together in which category your charming doggie falls! Obesity in dogs is also common problem.
When do we talk about dog obesity?
We speak of obesity for any excess weight of more than 15% compared to the ideal weight. Thus, a dog that should ideally weigh 20kg will be considered obese when it reaches 23kg. Certain concrete signs make it possible to reveal an overweight in the dog: ribs not palpable, absence of the hollow of the sides, base of the thickened tail, difficulty in moving, intolerance to the effort or to the heat …
What predisposes to obesity?
Overweight is caused by the dog consuming more energy (calories) than it expends. The excess calories being put in reserve by the body, and causing the curves of Medor.
There are also various risk factors that predispose the dog to obesity.
- Genetics, the breed factor: some dog breeds are genetically predisposed to obesity. This is particularly the case of the Saint Bernard, the Beagle, the Labrador, the Dachshund, the New Land …
- The age of the dog, but also that of the owner. Indeed, the older the age, the greater the risk of obesity.
- The sex of the dog: females are more prone to weight gain.
- Sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise are the worst enemies of extra pounds.
- Sterilization, contraception: stop received ideas… It is not sterilization in itself that makes your animal fat! It is simply the fact that the rations, after sterilization, must be adapted. Once sterilized, the bitch will indeed need less energy, so it will be necessary to reduce her daily intake (by 30% in general). Also, remember the effect of satiety brought by hormones, which obviously disappears once the animal is sterilized. Therefore, if we do not change his eating habits, the dog that ingests too many calories may indeed gain weight. Talk to your vet, he will give you the right advice.
Other risk factors
- Certain pathologies (hypothyroidism, diabetes) often lead to excess weight in the affected animal. It is therefore necessary to ensure that dog obesity is not linked to one of these diseases.
- Taking certain medications (antiepileptics, corticosteroids) is known to make the animal hungry, which is a problem if the owner listens to his animal.
- The type of food: a very important point too. The way the dog is fed, the food given (household ration, kibble), the quantity… These are all factors that also influence weight gain.
How is obesity dangerous for your dog?
Many owners think of pampering their little companion by offering them candies, cookies, chew bars, pastries, table scraps… Unfortunately, this is not the case! Quite the contrary! Obesity has serious consequences for the health and well-being of your dog. It decreases its life expectancy. And, it causes osteoarticular, respiratory and cardiac diseases. It decreases the dog’s immunity, making it more susceptible to infections. As anesthetics dissipate in fat, obesity is a major drawback during surgical operations: it can slow down the elimination of anesthetics and make your animal woke up longer; his breathing capacity is also reduced.
How do you know if your dog is obese?
Recognizing an obese dog is not that complicated! On the other hand, it is more difficult to admit it. Of course, there are breed standards, but some dogs are smaller or larger than the “standard”, so we cannot rely solely on these standards to assess the dog’s weight, especially as many dogs are crossed.
In order to know if your little companion is obese or not, you must bring…. your eyes and your hands! Nothing easier ! We will in fact base ourselves on observation and palpation.
- Observe your dog’s silhouette, side view and top view. Ideally, the spine should not be visible, unlike the abdominal belt (more or less depending on the breed of your dog).
- Palpate your little companion, passing your hands along his body, without exerting pressure. Ideally, you should be able to feel the spine and ribs without pressing too much. If it is impossible for you to feel them, or if you feel the bulges on the thighs, the base of the tail or the chest… it is time to put Médor on a diet!
Prevention of obesity in dogs
Nothing could be simpler to keep your dog in good shape. From an early age, offer him a diet adapted to his needs and control the quantities distributed. Following its sterilization or a decrease in activity (postoperative for example) reduce the amount of energy supplied. To do this, reduce the quantities provided or change the type of food (less calories) in order to maintain a sufficient volume of kibble to ensure your dog’s satiety.
Avoid snacking and foods that are not suitable for your little companion’s diet. Human food, for example, is not suitable for our domestic carnivores! Did you know that giving 25g of cheese to your dog equals two big muffins for you.
If you still want to offer him some treats, make sure that they are suitable (there are low-calorie treats) and don’t forget to reduce his ration accordingly. Treats aren’t the only rewards for your dog, the best rewards are YOU, and that doesn’t make you fat! So feel free to congratulate him happily or play with him to reward him rather than stuffing him with unsuitable cookies.
We have seen that a sedentary lifestyle is the enemy of extra pounds, so it is important to offer your little companion regular physical activity.
As you will have understood, obesity is harmful to the health and well-being of your charming doggie! Once this is installed, setting up a plan is not easy. In order to avoid this, prevention is better than cure, provide a healthy life for your pet. Talk to your vet. An expert in nutrition, he will provide you with the help you need to find a suitable diet for your little companion and provide him with personalized follow-up.