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Dog Obesity Health Problems

Updated on October 13, 2013

If you want to avoid dog obesity health problems, the solution is easy as pie. Cut down on table scraps, avoid high-calorie treats and increase your dog's exercise regimen. With our busy lifestyles, this can be easier said than done, but putting your dog on a diet is much more than dealing with a cosmetic issue. Indeed, dogs can care less about how they look; nobody will tease them or make funny remarks. Rest assured though, if your buddy could speak, he would thank you wholeheartedly for the health and extra years you have added to his life.

Fact is, obesity in pets is an overgrowing problem. A survey conducted by Purina in 2005, found that 60 percent of pets are overweight. Why is that? Are dog owners not exercising their pets enough? Are they giving in to those languid eyes begging for an extra cookie? Are they not correctly following portion guidelines? Are they not aware that a single biscuit may contain 100 calories?

Regardless, it's a sad wake up call when dog owners are told by their vet that their dog contracted a condition that could have been easily avoided if only the pet was more on the trim side. Often, the dog owner is told by the vet about letting the pet shed some pounds, but the owners do not take the advice seriously. Indeed, often pet owners are in denial when they are told by their vet that their dog is obese. Instead, they should listen: obesity is a nutritional disease that can lead to several complications. We will see several of them in the next paragraphs.

The Amazing Treat Diet for Dogs: How I Saved My Dog From Obesity
The Amazing Treat Diet for Dogs: How I Saved My Dog From Obesity
The Amazing Treat Diet For Dogs: How I Saved My Dog From Obesity, is a how-to diet book for dogs based on the funny, touching and true story of how Katie saved her dog, Hustler, from obesity.

Just as in humans, obese dogs are prone to several medical conditions. Several of these conditions can get better or even resolve with an appropriate weight-loss program; however, some may be difficult to eradicate despite many efforts in reducing weight. So best to avoid these in the first place by not letting your dog gain weight. Indeed, this list should act as a deterrent for owners of trim dogs. If your dog is obese though, this list may help you feel motivated to take action quickly before it's too late.

Joint Problems

While it's true that certain breeds are more prone than others to problems with their joints, it's also true that in many cases obesity is an additional predisposing factor. It is estimated that about 25 percent of overweight dogs tend to develop serious joint problems. Consider that the joints, bones, muscles, and tendons of an overweight dog are subjected to repetitive heavy pounding that contributes to the initiation and progression of osteoarthritis along with all its degenerative consequences. Other conditions such as hip dysplasia, torn anterior cruciate ligament and intervertebral disc disease may be aggravated by the extra weight.

Heart Problems

The heart of overweight dogs needs to pump more blood in order to keep the tissues well oxygenated. This creates a heavy workload which leads to higher blood pressure and a predisposition for congestive heart disease.

Trouble Breathing

Those extra layers of fat in the abdomen take up space and prevent the lungs from expanding as they should. This leads to difficulty breathing even with little or no exertion.

Skin Problems

More fat equals to more skin folds. Owners of Shar pei dogs know for a fact how those skin folds can soon become a dermatological problem, but if your dog is overweight, he may end up looking like one and develop the same problems. Skin fold dermatitis therefore is another health issue seen in enlarged Rovers.


Humans aren't the only ones suffering from diabetes, so can your pet. This tends to happen in obese dogs as well because in overweight dogs there is an increase in blood glucose levels which consequently causes an increase in the secretion of insulin.

Exercise Intolerance

Obese dogs become more and more reluctant to move, creating a chain reaction since lack of movement will further contribute to gaining weight. The change may be gradual, one day your dog doesn't seem to eager to go on walk, and if he does, he may stop and refuse to go further or may get easily tired. You then start making walks shorter, and soon, your dog barely gets excited at the sight of the leash. Often, this reluctance to move is further aggravated by joint pain, and in the summer, heat intolerance, which is common in overweight dogs. Lack of exercise also predisposes obese dogs to constipation.

Increased Anesthetic Risks

It takes longer for obese dogs to come out of anesthesia, and on top of that, a fatty liver isn't the best tool for breaking down the anesthetics. Also, it's more complicated to perform surgery on an overweight dog as the surgeon will have to cut through more layers of fat to reach some organs. The risks of cardiac arrest during surgery are also higher since as mentioned, obese pets have higher chances for cardiac complications.

Lowered Life Span

Obviously, all the above health issues contribute to a lowered quality of life and lowered life span. Affected dogs may become more irritable and grumpy because they are more likely to feel hot, in pain and may be exercise intolerant. Their organs and joints are forced to work more than they were meant to. On top of that, the overweight dog is more likely to have a lowered immune response, predisposing him to infections and even certain types of cancer. Indeed, obese dogs appear to be more likely to develop cancer of the urinary bladder and mammary tumors especially in dogs who were already obese at one year of age.

As seen, repeatedly giving in to those languid eyes can have devastating effects on your dog's health. Yes, you can kill a dog softly by feeding him too much. There are better ways to spoil your dog other than feeding such as enrolling him in agility, feeding him a premium diet and buying him interactive toys that keep him busy. Talk to your vet today about what steps you can take to reduce your dog's weight.

Alexadry© all rights reserved, do not copy.

Risks and Signs of Obesity in Dogs and Cats


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    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Farricelli 

      6 years ago

      Rebecca, many dogs find cat food appealing because it has a stronger smell and is very high in protein. This is also why many dogs find cat poop irresistible as well.

    • Rebecca Furtado profile image

      Rebecca Furtado 

      6 years ago from Anderson, Indiana

      Thank you for this article. I am going to remind the dogs that fries are bad for them and only people should eat them! Wait a minute the fries are bad for me too. I still can't convince them cat food is bad for them. It has some magic appeal.

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Farricelli 

      6 years ago

      Thank you LKMore01, you make a valid point that we should learn from our dogs. After all, they say that owning a dog leads to a healthier lifestyle, and that's a major plus! When people ask me what I do to maintain my weight the same as it was decades ago when I got married, I tell them I walk dogs several times a day and they help me stay fit!

    • LKMore01 profile image


      6 years ago


      As you know this is a serious issue in the US. As more and more humans are exercising less and struggle with weight so do our pets. We should learn from them and make sure we are going for regular walks and getting outside. Instead we are imposing our wills on them and making our pets unhealthy. Important subject, great article.


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