Americans struggle with their weight and according to medical research about two-thirds of the population is overweight or obese. Our health is complicated, and seemingly everywhere we look someone is counting our calories and telling us we are too fat. With no shortage of news reports barking research studies suggesting something is bad for us, we are then suddenly inundated with reports of doom-and-gloom. Television, radio, magazines, almost everywhere we turn someone is pointing out our shortcomings. Researchers have turned their watchful eye to Fido and with good reason. According to an Australian study, 40 percent of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese. Cats and dogs share similar results according to the study. Obviously, we have a growing problem with weight and how it affects our overall health.
I believe most pets look and act like their owners, a happy dog — happy owner, overweight owner — overweight dog. Reasons for companion animal obesity and general decline of health associated with being overweight result from the same issues as Fido’s human counterpart. Some diseases for example, hypothyroidism can attribute to or cause obesity in dogs. Genetics can play a role in obesity, a few breed examples are: the Labrador Retriever and Coker Spaniel. However, Fido’s expanding waistline is probably a result of domestication, lack of exercise, and overeating. Interestingly, one study suggested “obese dogs are more likely to have been fed inexpensive rather than more expensive foods” (Kienzle E. Bergler). I can attest to my dogs being fed a more expensive food still struggle with maintaining an ideal weight. I am a firm believer in most situations overweight is a simple calculation of calories in verses calories burned.
An overweight dog — just like humans suffer a higher incidence of heart disease, respiratory complications, diabetes, kidney disease, dermatology and orthopedic disorders. If your dog can’t breathe nothing else matters, making respiratory and cardiac issues the most significant complication of obesity. However, I believe degenerative orthopedic disorders in companion animals are especially cruel. Maintain and encourage open dialogue with your veterinarian about your pets health and especially their weight is vital. Broaching the topic of your pet’s weight with your veterinarian will ease conversation resulting in better care for your dog. Always consult your veterinarian before starting a weight loss program for your pet.
I struggle to keep Hobo the Wonder Dog’s weight between 42 and 45 pounds. He has a strong drive to eat and always seems hungry but equally driven to take a hike. Keeping his stylish K9 figure may not be as easy as you think. The bottom line: Feed a good-quality food and follow manufactures recommendations, keep active, limit treats and always follow your veterinarian’s recommendations for weight control. Your veterinarian is your best partner in your dog’s health. Maintaining a healthy weight with diet and exercise will always be the best option for a longer healthier life while building a stronger bond with your dog. Remember, what is good for the dog is good for you! Life is better with a dog.
Hobo is a rescue dog out to make a difference in animal rescue and education. Please follow Hobo on Facebook at Hobo the Wonder Dog or contact him at: [email protected]