What is obesity?
Obesity is an accumulation of excess body fat. Extra body weight and extra body fat tend to go hand in hand, so most overweight dogs will have excess body fat.
Body weight is easy to measure when assessing if a dog is overweight or obese – easier than trying to measure body fat. Using body weight as a guide, dogs are considered to be overweight when they weigh 10-20% above their ideal body weight. They are considered obese when they weigh 20% or more above their ideal body weight.
How do I know if my dog is obese?
The very first step in dealing with an overweight or obese dog is to recognize and acknowledge that there is a problem. Unfortunately, we are inundated with s in the media of dogs that are consistently too heavy, which makes it challenging to understand what normal looks like. Your veterinarian and veterinary health care team can assist with an assessment.
Rib coverage is not only an important measurement to help you identify if your dog is overweight, but it is also easy for you to do at home, on your own. If you hold your hand palm down and feel your knuckles with the flats of the fingers on the opposite hand, this is how your dog’s ribs should feel just behind the shoulder blades. It is also a good method for measuring weight loss progress between formal weigh-ins.
Your veterinary health care team will provide an estimated ideal body weight to use as a target, but it is important that they also do regular body condition assessments to ensure progress is being made toward normal body weight and body condition. Most veterinary practices use a body condition scoring system on a scale of either 1-5 (3 is normal) or 1-9 (5 is normal).
What are the risks with obesity?
Obesity shortens a dog’s life and makes them more likely to develop disease. It was always accepted that heavy dogs lived a shorter lifespan than lean dogs, usually by 6-12 months. But a large, lifetime study of Labrador Retrievers has found that being even moderately overweight can reduce a dogs life expectancy by nearly two years compared to their leaner counterparts. This is a sobering statistic.
Previously, fat was considered to be relatively inactive tissue, simply storing excess energy calories and adding to body mass. However, scientific evidence now reveals that fat tissue is biologically active. It secretes inflammatory hormones and creates oxidative stress on the body’s tissue, both of which contribute to many diseases. Thinking of obesity as a chronic, low-level inflammatory condition is a new approach.
Obese dogs develop an increased risk for:
On the other hand, obesity may be an indicator of disease, such as hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid gland) or Cushing’s disease (overactive adrenal glands).
The Simple Way To Know If Your Dog Is Overweight – Veterinarian Explains
Obesity can be defined as an excess accumulation of body fat that contributes to disease. Dogs that weigh at least 10% above their ideal body weight are considered overweight, while dogs weighing 20% more than ideal are considered obese. Excess body weight can be a contributing factor in many diseases.