The Risks of Obesity in Dogs

The risks of obesity should be known to all pet owners. Obesity is an increasing problem in pets nowadays, due to the sedentary lifestyle of dogs and their calorie rich diet. Obesity can cause a series of problems that may be avoided if you put your dog on a diet and start a regular workout program. Diabetes, the early onset of arthritis and cardiovascular disease are just a few risks obese dogs are exposed to.

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes may be an inherited disease, but the condition may also be acquired. In dogs with diabetes the glycemia will be higher than normal and the dog is not able to assimilate the sugars in the blood stream.

Obese dogs may develop diabetes and this will manifest through:

  • Polyuria or increased urination
  • Polydipsia or increased thirst
  • Weight loss
  • Lack of activity
  • Lethargy

If your dog develops diabetes due to a deficient diet and lack of exercise, the condition may be reversible, provided your dog starts losing weight and benefits of an altered diet.

If diabetes is left untreated, it may lead to complications such as blindness and even early death.

Early Onset of Arthritis

Arthritis is a joint condition and will affect mostly senior dogs. A dog with arthritis will experience in pain in the joints and will also have swollen joints.

In obese dogs, arthritis may occur earlier, due to the fact that the extra pounds will press on the joints and cartilages, destroying them.

Some common signs of arthritis include:

  • Limping or trouble moving; unusual moves
  • Pain when performing certain moves or even when being touched
  • Lethargy
  • Whining

There is no cure for arthritis, even if the dog’s condition will improve when he loses some weight. There are however, a few methods to control the disease and keep the pain to a minimum.

Heart Problems in Dogs

The heart is an organ that provides blood to the entire body. In an obese dog, the heart will need to send blood to all the additional fat tissues, which means that the heart will work more and heart disease may not be avoidable.

The heart chambers may weaken and there is also a higher incidence of heart strokes in overweight canines.

Watch out for symptoms such as:

  • Exercise resistance
  • Difficulties breathing, especially after moving or running
  • Abnormal pulse or heart rate
  • Sudden collapse

Frequent Skin Infections

Skin infections are more frequent in obese dogs. This is due to the fact that there may be skin creases that accumulate bacteria and yeast cells and these can easily develop disturbing the normal pH balance of the dog's skin.

Skin infections are not life threatening, but may cause a lot of discomfort and may require several weeks of treatment.

Obese Dog Life Expectancy

Obese dogs have a reduced life expectancy, which may be linked to the health problems they are exposed to. On average, obese dogs live 3 years less than canines with a normal weight.