Dog Obesity

Are our dogs getting fatter

Are our dogs getting fatter? If so why, is this a knock-on effect of human obesity or is that we are not aware of the harmful fat levels in the foods we feed our dogs.

Obesity is sadly an extremely common and preventable problem affecting our dogs on a day to day basis, with Veterinary surgery’s seeing more cases every year.

As with humans, it’s caused by an imbalance in the diet, we are taking in too many different fats leaving the body unable to process these fats. This has given rise to a persistent and potentially life-threatening diseases.

So how do you spot the signs of Obesity

I know that sounds funny, but many dog owners refuse to accept that their dogs are overweight. There are however some obvious signs including struggling to see or feel their dog’s ribs, no waistline, a sagging abdominal area and a fatter or rounder face.

Other signs that a dog is carrying a little extra weight could be a sudden refusal to walk or lethargic lagging and uncharacteristic tiredness.

Health Problems

UK Vets are seeing far too many cases of obesity which has led many to offer weight management programs for you and your dog. Vets are concerned that the increase in obesity is major posing risks to dogs withsurgical complications, cardio-respiratory disorders, hormone problems, skin disease and cancer.As in humans the most common problems seen in dogs with obesity is diabetes, arthritis and heart disease.

Is it simply fat levels in the foods we feed our dogs?

Simple answer is “NO” although dog food intake and type diet play a major part. Other contributors can be put down to the dogs reproductive age, activity levels, lifestyle, breed, and often genetics can play its part.

Research has proven that neutering and castration often leads an increase in weight, this is because it often slows down fat processing within the body. So, we as owners should be aware of the change and alter the amount of food we feed our dog to suit.

Many mass-produced treats are jammed full of fat, many dogs today are over treated and as a result can gain weight. It comes down to common sense and restrict the treats to a minimum.

The older your dog becomes obviously they become inactive, they have energy so as owners we need to offset their food to match their activity levels. When it comes to food though still few owners are unsure about how much to feed their dog, although each high-quality food has a guide. With dry food is essential you use the guide and measure out the correct amount of food for your dog.

What can we do

First thing to do if you think your dog is becoming a little fatter than usual is speak to Vets and then can then advise the best course of action. Your Vet will typically recommend a new diet to start with, which is high in proteins and fibre with low fat levels. This will give your dog a feeling of being full but provided the much-needed energy.

There are two camps on how to feed your dogs, one suggestion is dividing your dog’s daily amount into several meals. The other feeding once a day in the morning allowing the dogs natural body function to rebalance. This is where I would recommend you speak to your Vets and do your own research.

Make sure there is no extra food being given during this time of weight reduction especially high fat treats. You can replace mass produced treats with low fat or vegetable treatsand avoid feeding scraps or any leftovers.

Exercise, but controlled and moderate exercise if your dog is seriously over weight. You can not force this as if you over exercise you may cause more harm than good. When your dog starts to lose the extra weight, he or she will be happier in themselves and will be more inclined to exercise.

We seem to live in a society where we are not forth coming when it comes to taking responsibility for our own health. It is however our responsibility to take control of our dog’s health as they can not do it themselves. Obesity is a serious threat to their health and if it is not addressed then that you are putting you’re dogs in danger of early death.


Paul Daly
HDipCCB One of the UK’s Leading Dog Behaviourists
I have made it my purpose in life to help you understand your dog and build a true relationship which is based on trust. I have worked with 1000’s of dogs and their owners with 70% of these cases being aggression to both dogs and people. Whilst the remaining 30% of cases were made up of pulling on the lead, over excitement, recall, prey drive behaviour, separation anxiety and training related issues.
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Photo’s by Parker Amstutz JC Gellidon