Did you know 35% of dogs are overweight, but only around 30 – 40 % of their humans know it?
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Being overweight shortens their lives. Dogs at a healthy weight have been shown to live around two years longer than overweight dogs of the same breed and lifestyle. Quality of life is also lower. Overweight dogs are slower to get up and down, they get winded or tired quickly and are less likely to play.
Exercise intolerance. Signs of exercise intolerance can be subtle, with suboptimal performance or movement difficulties noticed only by the dog’s owner or handler. Signs can also include exercise-induced weakness, collapsing, or even death following exercise. Noticeable tiredness or unenthusiastic behaviour can lead people to take the dog out even less!
Increases risk from anaesthesia. The heart and lungs in overweight dogs have to work harder during anaesthesia. They struggle to breathe because they have difficulty expanding their chest. Overweight dogs often sleep too deeply and take longer to wake up.
Cardiovascular issues. Weight gain can cause heart disease and high blood pressure-the same as in humans. Overweight dogs are more at risk for congenital heart issues to be poorly controlled, as their heart is working harder to achieve the same result than it would in the same dog at a healthy weight.
Breathing problems. Being overweight is linked to breathing problems. It can be increased or excessive panting during walks, or a slower walking pace. They are also more prone to a collapsing trachea and laryngeal paralysis. These airway conditions could lead to a respiratory crisis which can be fatal if not treated.
Increased heat sensitivity. We don’t need this in Australia! There are already multiple risks associated with hot weather (think dehydration and blistering ground temperatures) so take care not to add this to your dog’s list of summer issues.
Worsens musculoskeletal problems. Extra weight puts extra pressure on joints. The cartilage in the joints deteriorates, which leads to arthritis. We can perform bodywork and give pain relief, but weight loss helps significantly.
Pressure on the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Excess weight is a well-known risk factor for tearing the ACL, an important ligament in the knee.
Skin issues. Overweight dogs can have an unhealthy looking coat because it’s harder for them to groom effectively. Many overweight dogs have extra skin folds. These can cause irritation and infection by bacteria and can lead to scratching, body odour, and skin redness.
Can be a sign of underlying disease. Get your dog vet checked to ensure their weight gain is not caused by something more sinister than too much food. Weight gain, lethargy, and progressive weakness are signs of diabetes, pancreas disease, and thyroid issues. Treatment depends on the cause, and in some cases requires life long treatment plans such as with diabetes mellitus and irrecoverable pancreatic damage.
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