Canine Obesity – Fun Facts

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Dr Donna Spector

Did you know…..approximately 50% of U.S. dogs are overweight or obese.

Do you have a pudgy pooch? If you break a sweat when picking your dog up or you notice he cleans the floors with his stomach—there is a problem! All joking aside, health risks of obesity are real. It contributes to many medical conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, heart and lung disease, high blood pressure, compromised immune function and can even predispose to certain types of cancer. It has been well documented that dogs maintaining an ideal body weight live 15% longer, and with less disease, than overweight dogs. It is a fact that dogs will live shorter lives if obesity is not addressed.

While most dog owners realize that their dog may be “a little heavy”, they often don’t recognize when their dog is truly obese. When a vet says “Fido” should lose 5 pounds, it often goes in one ear and right out the other. Really…who doesn’t have 5 pounds to lose? But this is us thinking in human weight terms. Did you know….

5 extra pounds on a (should-be) 12 pound Shih Tzu is like 58 extra pounds on a 140 pound woman.

5 extra pounds on a (should-be) 25 pound Beagle is like 28 extra pounds on a 140 pound woman.

5 extra pounds on a (should-be) 70 pound Lab Retriever is like 10 extra pounds on a 140 pound woman.

The first dog in this example is morbidly obese at 42% over ideal body weight. The second dog is also obese at 20% over ideal body weight. The third dog is overweight at 7% over ideal body weight. These are weights that veterinarians see every day. This kind of weight problem is responsible for many preventable illnesses in our pets.

What causes obesity?

While some dog’s do indeed have a medical condition that predisposes them to obesity, most often it is a result of simple overfeeding. While dogs are frequently overfed their food, treats are also a major source of hidden calories. Look at this example:

A premium pig ear on average has about 230 calories. If you give this pig ear as a treat to a 40 pound dog (who should be eating around 620 calories each day), it is the same as a person (on a 2300 calorie diet) eating 2 double cheeseburgers as a treat in addition to their normal meals. This pig ear represents close to 40% of that dog’s daily calorie requirement.

Many commercial dog treats are filled with calories, sugar, and other potentially unhealthy ingredients that do nothing to satisfy hunger and just contribute to our dog’s ever expanding waistlines. Choosing treats like Halo’s natural baked low-calorie Healthsome biscuits is a great option. Fresh or lightly cooked vegetables are always a good choice, too.

What can you do?

  • The first step is to admit there is a problem. Get motivated on your dog’s behalf!
  • Talk to your vet. Get your pet a full medical checkup. Find out just how overweight or obese your dog is. Find out what their ideal body weight is. Find out how many calories they should eat each day.
  • Choose the best food for weight loss in your dog. Talk to your vet about Halo’s natural high protein food to aid in weight loss while still maintaining lean body mass and strength. The canned chicken and lamb Spot’s Stew has lower calories and can be especially helpful for weight loss. Halo also creates a line of low-calorie nutritious treats that can give your dog that snack he craves without the unnecessary calories. Try the Healthsome Skin and Coat treats with only 12 calories per biscuit or Beef and Liver or Chicken and Cheese treats with only 14 calories per biscuit.
  • Exercise your dog briskly for at least 20 minutes every day!
  • Monitor your dog’s progress and stay on track.

Check out this great website about pet obesity prevention for more tips on weight loss:

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