Just as obesity is a huge problem for humans in the United States, it's increasingly becoming a problem for our canine population. Unhealthy diets, too much food, too many treats and lack of exercise can all contribute to an overweight dog. The health implications are just as serious for our dogs as they are for us.
Do you own a tubby tabby or a pooch that has packed on a few pounds?
According to veterinary experts, pet obesity has become a major concern in treating cats and dogs, and may be a contributing cause of many serious and debilitating health issues.
Dr. Ted Sherman, co-owner of Capeway Veterinary Hospital in Fairhaven, reports that when he began practicing 30 years ago, he'd guess that only five to seven percent of his four-footed patients were overweight.
"Currently I would estimate 85 percent of my patients to be obese," he says. Sherman defines obesity as a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have an adverse effect on health, leading to reduced life expectancy and/or increased medical problems.
"Obesity in pets causes an increased load on joints and heart, advancing or causing progression of signs of heart disease or arthritic changes," Sherman says, adding that overweight pets with respiratory disease or other conditions with symptoms that include decreased oxygen delivery are also adversely affected by obesity.
According to Sherman, obesity can also be implicated in the development of diabetes, which requires a lot of effort to treat, and can be expensive as regular blood tests and medications are needed to control the disease.
Barring any medical condition such as Canine Hypothyroidism, with a proper diet, limited treats and increased exercise your dog can get back to the proper weight and not only feel a lot better but also improve or eliminate problems or conditions contributed to by being obese.
Drastic measures are not recommeneded. Use a high quality dog food, low fat if needed, with the correct proportions, less treats, no table food and plenty of regular exercise and you should see steady, gradual weight loss and an improved quality of life for your four legged buddy.