Canine Obesity Health Issues

Did you know that overweight dogs can be a greater risk for certain health problems?

An Overweight DogMore than 50% of dogs in the United States are labeled overweight or obese.  This is a problem because dogs should be healthy and pain-free! Here are a few possible health problems with canine obesity and what they are:

Joint pain and damage-

  • About 25% of overweight dogs develop joint pain, since their bodies have to carry more weight that they are supposed to support.  Arthritis (ahr-thry-tis) can develop in these heavy dogs, which means joints can hurt when doing simple activities like running or walking.  Dogs can also have develop ligament pain, which connects two bones together.  This could happen when they stretch or tear ligaments, which usually happens around the knee.  If the issue is bad enough, dogs might need surgery to fix this, so make sure you are keeping your dog healthy by exercising everyday!

Diabetes (Dye-ah-bee-tees)-

  • Diabetes, also called Diabetes Mellitus, is a condition where the dog’s body can’t use a type of sugar normally.  This sugar, called glucose, is the main energy source for the dog’s body cells.  The different levels of glucose in the blood are controlled by insulin, which is a hormone that helps the glucose enter into the dog cells.  Insulin is produced by the pancreas, which is an organ in the body.   In diabetes caused by obesity, the dog’s body either is not producing enough insulin, or the dog’s body can’t respond normally to the insulin that is made by the pancreas.  This means glucose/sugar levels in the blood rise which could be very harmful for dogs.  Symptoms of this diabetes could cause increased peeing, extreme thirst, change in appetite, or weight loss.  Make sure you dog is at a healthy weight to try to have your dog live a diabetic-free life!

Difficulty breathing-

  • There are a lot of different issues that could be the cause of overweight dogs to breathe heavy.  One issue could be that the extra fat in the dog’s stomach pushes against the diaphragm (dye-a-fram), which is a large muscle that helps the dog breathe.  When the diaphragm can’t expand properly, the lungs do not get enough air and could cause difficulty breathing.  This can also be an issue because since the dog is bigger than normal, they need more oxygen to support more cells. The good news is that when your dog loses weight, they should be breathing just fine!

Heart Disease-

  • When dogs are overweight or obese, the extra fat can cause stress to the heart, as it has to pump harder to get blood to all areas of the body.  This increases blood pressure, also called hypertension, and can lead to congestive heart failure.  Eating properly and exercising more can greatly decrease risk of heart disease for your pet!

Lack of energy-

  • In general, dogs that are overweight can be slower and may not want to do as much physical activity as other healthy dogs, because it takes more energy to do the same task as a dog in a normal weight range.  This is because their bodies are only meant to hold a certain amount of weight, and can be exhausted from something that seems so small and simple.  This can cause your dog to seem sad or uninterested in things, but with proper diet and exercise, they can become happy and healthy once more!