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Nanaimo Veterinary Hospital

Canine Obesity – A fat dog Isn’t Necessarily a Happy dog

Nanaimo Veterinary Hospital advises you to keep your pet a healthy weight to avoid problems associated with obesity

By Dr. Jill Harrison

Weight management is a constant topic of discussion and thought in society, but the topic is seldom expanded to include our household critters. Canine obesity can lead to dramatic changes in various body systems such as bone and joint health, heart and lung function, immunity, and skin health.  In addition, obesity can markedly limit the longevity of the animal. In Canada, obesity is the number one nutrition-related disease seen in our canine companions.

 There are a number of risk factors that can contribute to your dog’s obesity, and it's not always as simple as just overfeeding. Certain breeds are at higher risk, and the incidence of obesity climbs as our four legged friends age. However, it should be noted that an overweight puppy is more likely to be overweight as an adult, so awareness of and attention to our pets' body condition at all life stages is crucial. Female dogs are more likely to be obese than males; current literature suggests that females represent over 60% of obese dogs in North America.

A sedentary lifestyle and a lack of exercise are the primary risk factors for the development of obesity.  The more active a pet is, the lower the risk that they will become, or stay, overweight. Finally, the type of food, the amount of food, and the way our dogs are fed all contribute to the problem of canine obesity. It is important to provide an appropriate food for your dog’s life stage and energy requirements; however, it is equally important to be feeding suitable portions for your dogs specific needs.

The adage "prevention is the best treatment" holds a great deal of truth when discussing canine obesity. Prevention requires nutritional discipline throughout the life of the pet. Solving the problem of canine obesity is most frequently complicated by lack of awareness of the problem, not by an unwillingness to help our pets.  Through dedication, appropriate nutrition, exercise and awareness, canine obesity can be properly managed, or better yet, prevented.


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