New research reveals overweight dogs are more likely to have shorter lives than those at ideal body weights.
The research, the University of Liverpool and Mars Petcare’s WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition, showed the lifespan of dogs that were overweight was up to two and a half years shorter when compared to ideal-weight dogs.
The study examined more than 50,000 dogs across 12 of the most popular dog breeds. The effect of being overweight was seen in all breeds, although the magnitude of the effect differed, ranging from between five months less for male German Shepherds to two years and six months less for male Yorkshire Terriers.
The study did not examine the reasons behind the dogs being overweight but feeding habits are known to play a role in pet obesity.
“Owners are often unaware that their dog is overweight, and many may not realize the impact that it can have on health,” said study co-author and Professor of Small Animal Medicine at the University of Liverpool Alex German.
“What they may not know is that, if their beloved pet is too heavy, they are more likely to suffer from other problems such as joint disease, breathing issues, and certain types of cancer, as well as having a poorer quality of life.”
When it comes to healthy weight management prevention is better than a cure, and to prevent obesity, you need to spot it early. There are a few simple things you can do to make sure your dog maintains a healthy weight:
Ideal body weight
The best person to speak to about what weight will be ideal is your veterinarian. They can work closely with you to determine what food to switch your pet to and exactly how much to feed.
Exercise is extremely important. Make sure your pet is getting the exercise they need. Certain breeds need different amounts of exercise, you can discuss the amount and what time of exercise with your veterinarian.
No more table scraps
Completely eliminate the table scraps. Not only will this contribute to the weight gain, but it will also lead to bad behaviors like begging and can cause gastrointestinal issues. Certain foods can also be toxic to animals so completely eliminating table scraps is positive overall.
No more treats
Or at least decrease the number of treats. Dogs do not need an excessive amount. If you feel they need to get something throughout the day then pre-measure your dog’s food and feed them kibble out of the pre-measured food throughout the day.
Weigh your dog
It is important to always weight your dog. Typically it is recommended to weigh them every 2 weeks when trying to lose weight, but weighing once a month is adequate. Remember weight loss should always be gradual.