In North America, obesity is the most common preventable disease in dogs. Obesity is defined as an accumulation of excess body fat. According to estimates, 40% to 50% of dogs are overweight and 25% are obese. Obesity is typically caused by excessive food intake and insufficient exercise, however, there are some disease conditions that can also lead to obesity. Obesity is more common in older, less active pets. Dogs that are fed homemade meals, table scraps and excessive treats are more likely to be overweight than dogs eating only a high-quality commercial pet food. The most common risks associated with excess weight in pets include: osteoarthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart and respiratory disease, cranial cruciate ligament injury, kidney disease, any forms of cancer and decreased life expectancy (up to 2.5 years).

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When is a dog considered to be overweight?

Dogs are considered to be overweight when they weigh 10-20% above their ideal body weight or are scaled as a 6-7/9 on a body condition scale. There are considered obese when they weigh 20% or move above their ideal body weight, or are scaled as an 8-9/9 on a body condition scale.

Are some breeds prone to obesity?

Certain breeds are more predisposed to weight gain (Labrador Retrievers, Beagles, Dachshunds, Golden Retriever, etc.) and need to be monitored more closely. However, any breed or cross breed may have a tendency to gain weight given the opportunity.

Why should you have weight loss and management consultation at the clinic?

Remember, you can’t judge if your dog is overweight merely by putting him or her on a scale. By examining your dog, veterinarians can use weight, overall body condition, and other indicators to tell you whether he or she is overweight or obese. They can then use that information to determine what the best weight-loss regimen would be for your dog. Veterinarians are trained to recommend an appropriate diet and exercise program for safe weight loss. When helping your dog lose weight, slower is safer. “Crash” diets or intense workouts aren’t appropriate and in some cases, can be just as detrimental to their health as being obese.

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