The Dangers of Obesity In Dogs

Dangers of obesity in dogs. A small white dog is lying on a sofa being comforted by its owner with a pet on the head

Did you know that obesity is one of the leading causes of death in dogs? Like humans, overweight and obese dogs are at risk of developing various severe diseases and health problems.

These health problems cause your dog pain and uncomfortableness and can even shorten their lifespan by two and a half years.

This article will explain the dangers of obesity in dogs, including the diseases and health risks obesity can cause. It also discusses ways to identify if your dog is overweight or suffering from obesity.

What are the dangers of obesity in dogs?

  1. Osteoarthritis
  2. Diabetes
  3. Heart disease
  4. High blood pressure
  5. Kidney Disease
  6. Cancer
  7. Liver Disease

Determining if your dog is overweight and spotting the first signs of these conditions can help prevent serious long-term issues. A regular Vet check-up should always be your first defense against health risks and disease.

Dangers of obesity in dogs. A golden retriever lays on the vet table while they perform tests

Health risk signs to watch for when your dog is obese.

Osteoarthritis.

In a study of 504 dogs, a shocking 188 — or 37.3% — were diagnosed with osteoarthritis. While genetics has the most influence on your dog’s arthritis risk, a healthy, active lifestyle and weight can help to keep it away.

Since many dogs instinctively hide their pain until severe, it’s essential to keep a close eye on your dog’s behaviors, especially when getting up from a long nap or jumping.

Your dog is at a higher risk of osteoarthritis if they are a large breed, obese, senior, overweight, and previously injured joints or ligaments.

Signs of osteoarthritis (also known as Degenerative Joint Disease) in your dog:

  • Difficulty getting up
  • Limping
  • Stiffness
  • Changes in behavior and irritability
  • Wincing when touched or pet
  • Weight gain
  • Accidents in the house
  • Declining muscle mass

Tests to determine osteoarthritis:

  • X-ray
  • Physical examination of motion and joints.

No medicine or exercise can reverse osteoarthritis since it’s a degenerative disease. However, joint health supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin can reduce inflammation and pain, helping to promote more cushion in the joints.

Diabetes.

Diabetes is a disease where the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin or the body can’t use it properly. Low levels of insulin cause glucose to build up in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy.

Dogs who are obese have an increased risk of developing diabetes. Like humans, dogs with diabetes need daily insulin injections and careful monitoring to keep the disease under control.

While common in all ages, most dogs are diagnosed with diabetes at 7-10 years old.

Signs of diabetes in your dog:

  • Increased urination and thirst
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Excessive hunger
  • Cloudy eyes
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bad breath (ketoacidosis)

Tests to determine diabetes:

  • A physical examination
  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests
  • Fasting glucose test
  • Oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT)

There is no cure for diabetes, but you can manage it with proper treatment. Treatment usually includes daily insulin injections, a special diet, and regular exercise.

Your dog’s blood sugar will need to be monitored closely by you and your vet to ensure the correct insulin dosage.

Heart Disease.

Heart disease is very prevalent in dogs. Besides obesity, many different underlying conditions can cause heart disease, including heart valve degeneration, heart muscle disease, and irregular heart rate.

Signs of heart disease in your dog:

  • Persistent coughing
  • Fainting or collapsing
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Lethargic and sleeping more than normal
  • No or Low appetite

Tests to determine heart disease:

  • X-ray
  • Electrocardiogram (testing for abnormal heartbeat)
  • Echocardiogram (Ultrasound of the heart)
  • Blood Tests

High blood pressure in dogs.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a common condition in dogs. It occurs when the blood force against the arteries’ walls is too high.

Besides obesity, kidney and heart disease are underlying conditions that may cause high blood pressure. 

Signs of high blood pressure in your dog:

  • Excessive panting
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Increased urination
  • Frequent accidents in the house
  • Tiredness or lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Nosebleeds
  • Seizures

Tests to determine high blood pressure:

  • A physical examination
  • Blood tests
  • Urinalysis
  • X-rays
  • An electrocardiogram (ECG)

Kidney Disease.

The kidneys are responsible for filtering waste from the blood and maintaining proper fluid levels in the body. Kidney disease occurs when the kidneys are unable to do their job correctly.

Besides obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes are underlying conditions that may cause kidney disease. 

Signs of kidney disease in your dog:

  • Increased urination
  • Increased thirst
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bad breath (uremic frost)

Tests to determine kidney disease:

  • A physical examination
  • Blood tests
  • Urinalysis
  • X-rays
  • Kidney biopsy (rarely done)

There is no cure for kidney disease, but you can manage it with proper treatment. Treatment usually includes a special diet, medication, and close monitoring by your vet.

Cancer.

While obesity does not cause cancer, it can increase the risk of certain types of cancer, including bone cancer and mammary cancer.

Signs of cancer in your dog:

  • Lump or mass
  • Sores that don’t heal
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bad breath

Tests to determine cancer:

  • A physical examination
  • X-rays
  • Ultrasound
  • CT scan or MRI (rarely done)
  • Biopsy

Treatment to manage cancer includes surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.

Liver disease.

The liver is responsible for filtering toxins from the blood and maintaining proper fluid levels in the body. Liver disease occurs when the liver is unable to do its job correctly.

High blood pressure and diabetes are contributing factors to liver disease.

Signs of liver disease in your dog:

  • Jaundice (yellowing of the gums, skin, and whites of the eyes)
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bad breath

Tests to determine liver disease:

  • A physical examination
  • Blood tests
  • Urinalysis
  • X-rays
  • Liver biopsy (rarely done)

There is no cure for liver disease, but you can manage it with proper treatment. Treatment includes a special diet, medication, and close monitoring by your vet.

Proper diet to promote weight loss. A mid-sized breed of dog eats with his head completely in the green bowl.

What diet and exercise will help promote long-term health in your dog?

An estimated 56% of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese. Your dog’s exercise and eating habits have a significant role in their health; however, some dog breeds are more prone to health and obesity issues.

Overweight dogs are more likely to develop joint problems. They have a higher risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, respiratory problems, kidney disease, and certain types of cancer.

What steps should you take to keep your dog healthy?

  1. Feed your dog a well-balanced and nutritious diet.
  2. Track your dog’s daily caloric intake.
  3. Take your dog on daily walks, runs, or to the dog park frequently.
  4. Play with your dog at home twice a day for 15 to 30 minutes.
  5. Switch your dog’s treats to healthy fruits or vegetables, like blueberries, cantaloupe, or carrot sticks.

Excess weight can also lead to your dog becoming overheated more easily and can make it difficult for them to exercise and breathe properly.

If you are concerned that your dog may be overweight, talk to your veterinarian about your dog’s best diet and exercise plan

Helping your dog maintain a healthy weight is one of the best things you can do to promote their long-term health and wellbeing.

What health issue is your dog facing? Did this article help you to better understand it? Please share it with friends so you can help others.

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