We all think it’s cute. We all love watching them waddle around, nose to the ground, or up in the air looking at you with sweet eyes asking “Pretty please”. We all feel our dogs deserve all the treats in the world. Have you ever thought of what or how it is affecting your beloved pets’ overall health? Probably not. Let me list just a few health risks that the extra weight can cause.
- Damages joints, bones, ligaments
Extra tension on joints caused by an increased weight load can also lead to damage of certain ligaments. Ligaments are tough, fibrous strands of tissue that hold one bone in proximity to another bone in joints. One of the ligaments in the knee, the anterior cruciate ligament, is very prone to strains or tears. If this ligament is torn, the knee becomes very unstable and the dog is reluctant to use it. Surgery must be done to repair this torn ligament.
- Heart disease
As in people, overweight dogs tend to have increased blood pressure (hypertension). The heart has an increased work load since it must pump additional blood to excess tissues. This can lead to congestive heart failure.
- Decreased liver function
The liver stores fat so when a dog is overweight, an increased amount of fat builds up in the liver. This is called hepatic lipidosis. This condition can result in decreased liver function.
One of the most common complications of obesity in dogs is the development of diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes). Obesity causes an increase in the secretion of insulin in response to the increased blood glucose level in the overweight dog. Insulin is also more in demand simply because there is a greater amount of tissue in an overweight dog. When requirements for insulin exceed the ability of the body to produce insulin, diabetes mellitus develops. If the need for insulin increases over a long period of time, the cells in the pancreas which produce insulin can actually ‘burn out,’ again resulting in diabetes.
- Quality and length of life
Overweight dogs may become more irritable due to being hot, in pain, or simply uncomfortable. Overweight dogs die at a younger age than those maintained at an optimum weight.
- Digestive disorders
An overweight dog has an increased risk of developing constipation and may also have more problems with intestinal gas and flatulence, which is not pleasant for the dog or the owner.
The list could continue on health risks with obesity. Of course, if your pet happens to gain a significant amount of weight within a short period of time, I would consult with his/her veterinarian. There is a disease that can cause this called Hypo-thyroidism. This disease can cause unexplained weight gain, alopecia, excessive shedding, excessive scaling, dry haircoat, recurring skin infections, lethargy and many more.
So think before you give your “Fido” that 5th cookie. You could easily give him a carrot and he would be just as happy and on the road to a healthier life!