Just like in human beings, if your dog is overweight, it places a lot of stress on virtually all organs in its body; invariably illness and sometimes death are the consequences. All dog owners should be aware of the health risks of their pets. Some common ones are described:
Due to lack of exercise and overfeeding, dogs tend to grow obese. This causes the level of blood glucose to increase prompting an increase in the secretion of insulin to counter it. At one point in time, the demand for insulin exceeds the dog’s ability to secrete and this leads to the onset of diabetes. The situation is compounded by the fact the pancreatic cells tend to also burn out faster due to a prolonged demand for secretion of excessive amounts of insulin.
Damage to Bones, Joints, and Ligaments
This is a problem that is more serious that ordinarily assumed; over a quarter of all dogs experience problems with their bones and joints simply because they are overweight. The reason of such damage is simple; with the increase in bodyweight the bones, joints, and ligaments have to work much more and thus tend to wear out far faster. As a result of this wearing out process, it is not unusual for diseases like arthritis, and hip dysplasia to develop and become severe. With excess body weight, the ligaments also experience more wear and tear; one of the ligaments in the knee especially has a tendency to tear or undergo strain, causing the knee to become unstable and causing distress to the dog that can only be set right with surgery.
Blood Pressure and Heart Disease
Just like human beings, when dogs become obese they suffer from hypertension or increase in blood pressure. This causes the same effect as they do in human beings; the heart finds it difficult to pump blood and the increased workload stresses out the heart until one day it just fails.
When a dog is overweight, a lot of fat also accumulates in the chest area and this creates a problem in the ability of the lungs to expand to their normal capacity. The abdominal fat exerts a force against the diaphragm separating the chest from the abdominal cavity and as a result, the lungs get less space to expand. Making matters worse is the extra demand of oxygen to support the increase in tissue that makes the lungs work more. The increase in body weight can be especially serious for dogs that are already suffering from some sort of respiratory diseases.
Carrying excess weight can put a toll on the stamina and endurance of an obese dog. Since the entire body, and especially the muscles, heart, and lungs, have to do a lot much more work, the dog gets tired far faster than before.
Intolerance to Heat
Heavy deposits of fat all over the body can cause severe distress to an obese dog, especially in the summer season. The natural cooling system in dogs becomes severely stressed, and the animal’s body temperature can really spiral upwards.
Decrease in the Liver Function
When a dog gains weight, the liver starts storing the fat. In cases of severe obesity, the dog can suffer from a liver condition called hepatic lipidosis that results in the liver function being severely decreased.
Dogs that are seriously overweight experience a lot more problems than dogs that have optimum body weight. This difficulty in giving birth is termed dystocia, and dogs suffering from this problem may often need assistance from vets to successfully deliver. Often a cesarean section may be required.
It is clearly evident that both the quality and length of life can be severely affected by obesity in dogs. Overweight dogs are unable to breathe, move or play properly, and lay susceptible to a host of medical problems. Owners need to take care that the quantity and composition of food given to their pets are balanced and they get the proper amount of exercise too.
Author bio: Jeffrey Burke is a senior veterinary doctor. Many of his articles regarding pet care can be read on the website of PrimpPlay, a leading dog care service provider.