In recent years, we as a rescue are witnessing a dramatic increase in the number of obese dogs that walk through our doors. Whether that be dogs previously adopted from Home for Good or dogs who come into our facility to meet their potential sibling, the same idea applies.
Did you know that “In North America, obesity is the most common preventable disease in dogs.”? Or that “Approximately 25-30% of the general canine population is obese, with 40-45% of dogs aged 5-11 years old weighing in higher than normal.”?
Believe it or not, many veterinarians are simply afraid to tell you if your pet is overweight or has obesity. This is primarily due to the fact your veterinarian doesn’t want to inadvertently offend you. Weight issues are tricky and loaded with perceived judgment, strong emotions, and social stigmas. All of this leads to many vets remarking, “Maybe Buddy should drop a few pounds, but who shouldn’t?”
Obesity shortens a dog’s life and makes them more likely to develop the disease. It was always accepted that heavy dogs lived a shorter lifespan than lean dogs, usually by 6-12 months. But a large, lifetime study of Labrador Retrievers has found that being even moderately overweight can reduce a dog’s life expectancy by nearly two years compared to their leaner counterparts. This is a sobering statistic. (According to the VCA)
Dogs and cats with excess fat are at a much greater risk for developing diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and many forms of cancer.
A common misconception of pet owners is to associate love with feeding not realizing how detrimental to the animal’s health this can be. The most important decision you make each day about your pet’s health is what you choose to feed it. Choose wisely; your pet’s longevity and quality of life depend on it.
So, with that, what can you do as a pet owner?
- Stop religiously following the feeding directions on your dog’s food label. Every dog is built differently – just like humans! Take recommendations from your veterinarian or take the time to do research according to your dog’s breed, age, and activity level to ensure you are feeding the proper amount at each meal!
- EXERCISE. Just like humans, dogs require ample exercise regardless of their breed. The general recommendation is that dogs need at least 30-minutes of physical activity a day.
- Food does not equal love. There are many other ways to show your pet how much you love them other than treats. For example, take them on a walk! Reward good behavior with pets and affection!