Obesity isn’t just an epidemic for human beings. A recent study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention found that 54 percent of our canine friends are now classified as overweight or obese, a substantial increase over less than a decade.
And just like in people, an overweight or obese dog will suffer more medical problems — often many of the same diseases as humans — as well as experience a reduced quality of life and decreased longevity. Here are five of the most common weight-related health conditions found in dogs.
Arthritis is inflammation of the joints. Inflamed joints can occur for many reasons such as underlying disease. Some dog breeds are more prone to developing arthritis, such as the popular Labrador and Golden Retriever.
But the primary causes of arthritis are the degenerative changes that occur as the dog ages and overuse or wear and tear on the joints. Excess weight exacerbates and accelerates both these changes because of the additional strain the extra weight puts on their joints.
In addition to excess weight straining the joints, it will also put extra tension on a dog’s ligaments, particularly the anterior cruciate ligament. This ligament is prone to tearing, which is painful to the dog and must be surgically corrected most of the time.
2. Bladder and Urinary Tract Disease
In humans, the incidence of bladder stones has risen along with increasing obesity rates. According to a recent study from the Morris Animal Foundation and the University of Minnesota, the same appears to be true in canines as well.
Urinary bladder stones, sometimes called uroliths,, are stone-like deposits that can develop in the bladders of many animals, including dogs. These stones are painful and increase the likelihood of urinary tract infections. Bladder stones can also block the flow of urine, which can become life-threatening if the problem is not corrected by a veterinarian.
As in humans, excess weight can cause increased insulin production in dogs. This is the body’s response to the increase of glucose, or sugar, in the blood. More insulin is also needed simply because the body is larger than normal.
The body can only produce so much insulin, however. When the body’s needs for insulin exceed the supply, diabetes results. Over time, because the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas are taxed, they eventually burn out. Just like the treatment routines in diabetic people, diet, exercise, and even insulin supplementation are used to treat and manage dogs with diabetes
4. High Blood Pressure and Heart Disease
In the past few decades, dogs have developed another problem common in humans — hypertension and heart disease. Excess weight causes the heart to have to work harder because it must pump more blood to the added tissue. Eventually, the chronically high blood pressure can lead to heart failure.
Overweight or obese dogs also suffer from other weight-related health issues, such as difficulty breathing, difficulty exercising, skin and coat problems, digestive issues, and increased risk of cancers.
5. Deceased Life Expectancy
Weight gain in dogs can also lead to decreased life expectancy. Some studies show that moderate weight gain can decrease a dog’s life span by as much as two years. Extra weight causes extra stress on an animal’s body in all aspects. It causes an animal’s organs and vital systems to have to work harder than they would otherwise, and this can have serious long term consequences.
Are you concerned about your dog’s weight and any accompanying health issues? Contact us today. We can assist you with a diet and exercise plan to help get your dog’s weight under control so they can live happier, healthier, longer lives.