Excess Weight and Obesity in Dogs

It’s springtime in Atlanta and this year we have a lot of time extra to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. If you’re able, we highly recommend taking your pup for a walk to enjoy to break up the monotony and burn some pent up energy. Like humans, dogs need exercise and excess weight can present many challenges, some of which are life-threatening.

Dogs have a slimmer margin of error, with even 4 or 5 excess pounds being far too much for some breeds. One veterinarian noticed that overweight dogs were so common at her practice that she created the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. This organization estimates that about 59% of domestic pets in the US are overweight, with 21% of dogs being overweight before they reach 6 months of age.

Excess weight and obesity can have serious consequences for dogs, including kidney failure, bladder/urinary tract disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart failure, and even death. Veterinarians agree that people often look at their dog and assume they look “normal,” and miss the underlying health conditions that can be brought on by excess weight. Moreover, some humans think it’s “cute” when their pups are “round” and find humor in feeding them human food or large amounts of treats. Check out the graphic below for an idea of what an “ideal” body shape for your pup might be.

Just as the margin of error for excess weight is slim, small amounts of weight loss can have a big impact on your fur ball’s life and overall health. If your 100 pound Golden Doodle loses just 6% of their body weight, they’ll lose 6 pounds. For humans that number might seem small, but for Fido, it’s a big deal. That 6 pound loss will increase their energy, improve joint function, and potentially lead to a much fuller, healthier life. 

Simply adding a 20-30 minute walk to your pet’s routine can make a huge difference. Adding in a quick jog around the block or a few rounds of fetch in the backyard are great simple ways to increase their activity as well. We understand that life gets busy and this might not always be possible, but don’t forget your friends at The Village Pets are here to help! Doggy daycare is a great way to let your pup run wild and free; we can guarantee that they’ll be pooped by pickup at the end of the day.

We encourage you to think about your pet’s diet and take as much care with their food as you do your own. Do you know what ingredients are in their food? Does the pet food brand employ a nutritionist who knows about nutrition and wellness for dogs and cats? Do you know the proper amount of food your fur ball should eat each day? Are you feeding healthy treats like carrots or sweet potatoes, or are you stuffing them with milk bones and rawhides?

If you have questions about your pet’s diet, we encourage you to talk to your veterinarian. They have the most up-to-date information about pet nutrition and will help you create a plan that works with your lifestyle and your wallet. Ultimately, we all want our fur balls to live as long as possible, and proper diet and nutrition are critical to guaranteeing that dream comes true.

Check out AKC.org’s Expert Advice section for more info on pet obesity and proper diet and nutrition habits.

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