Obesity in dogs: what are the symptoms? What risks? What diet?

Junk food causes overweight, more simply called obesity, in humans, with its well-known consequences on the more or less serious health problems that result from it. Unfortunately the problem is the same with dogs.

In fact, pet stores are full of all kinds of treats that you may be tempted to give your dog too often and in too large a quantity. In addition, the industrial food of our pets (croquettes or pâtés) has also become much richer in fats and sugars. We must therefore be very vigilant about the food we give our doggies if we want to keep them in good health.

What is obesity? What are the risks for the dog?

By definition, obesity is a disease that is diagnosed in dogs when they reach a surplus of 10% of their ideal weight. This excess weight is not a disease to be taken lightly, since it can lead to many health problems of varying severity:

  • decrease in life expectancy of up to two years,
  • breathing problems,
  • problems moving around,
  • heart problems,
  • joint problems such as osteoarthritis caused by too much weight on the limbs to carry
  • problems with digestion, which can cause constipation, too frequent flatulence compared to normal, or conversely, too frequent diarrhea,
  • low tolerance to heat, exhausting the dog too quickly,
  • weaker immune system, making the dog more susceptible to infections,
  • probability of developing larger tumors,
  • high probability of developing diabetes mellitus.

As you have seen, there are many problems that can be linked to obesity. It is therefore important to know how to detect it when the dog has reached a critical weight, but above all, to know how to determine the cause.

The causes of obesity in dogs: where does this disease come from?

As you can imagine, the main cause of obesity in dogs is their diet. When you love your dog, you often want to please him, by giving him his favorite treats too often, or even by giving him more than the daily ration indicated on his packet of kibble to eat, irremediably causing overweight on the body. long term.

Some people also tend to feed their pooch, cheese or any other human food, without realizing the consequences. You should know that the human diet is extremely rich, a piece of cheese for a dog weighing 5 kg for example, is equivalent for us to eat the whole cheese. It is very important to understand that there is nothing worse about obesity than feeding your pet like a human. It is therefore essential to feed it with a diet intended for it. However, obesity is not just due to a problem with food.

This is because overweight develops when the dog consumes more energy than it expends. Of course, all breeds are different, and some have a more tendency than others to become obese, such as the Labrador, Cavalier King Charles or the Bulldog (French, English or American), but all breeds are likely to become obese if you are not careful.

To prevent possible overweight, it will be necessary to make your dog do a regular physical activity, by adapting it to its morphology because a pug will naturally not be able to do the same amount of exercises as a German Shepherd for example.

Other factors are likely to promote weight gain. Sterilization, for example, whether in males or females, tends to make the animal gain weight, even with unchanged daily rations and identical kibble. Indeed, the absence of sex hormones due to sterilization drastically reduces energy consumption, part of the fats ingested which were once assimilated when the dog was whole, are now only surplus, causing him to gain weight.

Finally, you should know that certain drugs are also likely to make a dog gain weight, such as antiepileptics or corticosteroids, as well as certain hormonal diseases such as diabetes or hypothyroidism.

Symptoms of obesity in dogs: how to recognize it

Recognizing obesity in a dog is actually quite simple. First of all, the clue is visible: it will be “round”. Seen from above, the height of a dog with a suitable weight should be visible, which is no longer the case for a dog with obesity. In addition, he will tend to ask for food very often.

Finally, we can check whether the dog is overweight by palpation. By running the fingers along the ribs, you should feel the last three without pressing, and even see them with the naked eye. The ones before should be felt with a little bit of pressure, with a light coating of grease on top. On an obese dog, you cannot feel any rib without pressing, and conversely, in a dog that is not fed enough, the ribs stand out too much. Be careful, however, not to panic unnecessarily, because some breeds are exceptions: greyhounds, for example, are naturally very thin, so they will not necessarily be malnourished, even if you can see their ribs.

How to treat obesity in dogs? Which regime to apply?

Much like humans, caring for a dog’s obesity will primarily come down to getting them exercise and regulating their diet.

Let’s start with the food. First, cut out treats and endings. All the surpluses that are not necessary for him and which have probably contributed to his obesity must be stopped. If it breaks your heart to no longer pamper your dog, tell yourself it’s for his well-being.

His main diet should also be changed. It will certainly be necessary to pass it under a diet called “light”, or for sterilized dogs. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you on the best diet to give him.

Then it will be necessary to make him exercise. But be careful, there is no question of making him run a marathon from day one. You have to go slowly, and take into account your age and potential health problems. If he has developed osteoarthritis for example, it is unthinkable to make him do agility. If the dog has already reached a certain age, running it could cause it more pain than anything else. Here too, do not hesitate to consult your veterinarian to find out which physical activities might be suitable for him. In most cases, starting with at least two one-hour walks a day should be a good start.

As you will have understood, it is easier to prevent obesity than to cure it. Get in the habit, as soon as your dog is adopted, of feeding him the correct daily doses listed on each pack. Learn to limit the treats (one to two a day maximum) and not to give him end of meals or any food for humans. Finally, make him exercise outdoors: in addition to being good for his health, this will allow you to enjoy a moment of bonding with your dog.