Canine obesity is on the rise, with a staggering 40% of dogs in the UK estimated to be overweight. However, carrying a little extra weight is the least of an overweight dog's worries; it’s what you can’t see that can be the major issue for these dogs.
So, what are the main causes of obesity in our dogs?
- The most common reason for our canine companions to pile on the pounds is too much food and a lack of exercise. Many dogs become overweight because we overfeed them or feed them the wrong types of food. Learn to resist those ‘puppy dog eyes’ as every additional treat is extra calories (not to mention they may not be entirely suitable for our four legged friends). Some owners choose to ‘free feed’ their dogs, meaning a bowl of food is down 24/7 and refilled when it’s empty – feeding this way means you may not truly know how much your dog is eating and when it is eating - which can make it difficult to schedule in proper exercise.
- Medical conditions such hypothyroidism (this is an under-active thyroid gland), a condition that reduces a dog's metabolic rate, meaning the dog may not have the ‘get up and go’ many dogs have when it comes to being exercised.
- Musculoskeletal conditions, such as arthritis or ligament strain, heart and respiratory disease, can also cause problems as they reduce a dog's ability to exercise
- which is why it is doubly important to keep them at their ideal weight. Cushing's disease, is a hormonal disorder which causes the body to overproduce natural steroids which stimulates the appetite.
- Another factor is medication, such as steroids, as they can increase your dog’s appetite.