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Obesity In Dogs: Recognizing It And How You Can Help

Canine obesity is a nutritional disease characterized by an excess amount of body fat which lately has become a common issue in dogs.

A survey by the US Association for Pet Obesity Prevention that was carried out in 2018 showed that 56% of domestic dogs are overweight.   

Obesity may lead to serious negative health effects that can reduce your dog’s lifetime, even in cases when the dog is slightly overweight.

Dog obesity is related to various major health problems, such as heart diseases, diabetes, and arthritis.

Therefore, maintaining your dog’s healthy body weight offers essential benefits to its overall life quality.

Which Dogs Are At Major Risk Of Becoming Overweight And What Are The Common Symptoms

Dogs that are overfed and dogs that lack the recommended amount of exercise or simply have an inclination to retain weight are at higher risk of becoming obese.

While obesity may occur in dogs at any age, this condition is most often seen in middle-aged dogs between ages five to ten. 

Castrated and indoor dogs are also at greater risk of becoming overweight.

In most cases, the initial basic signs or symptoms that your dog is obese are excess body fat, weight gain, high body condition score (BCS), and incompetence to exercise.

In this article, we’ll inform you of everything you need to know about canine obesity in general, its primary causes, the risk factors this condition brings along, and how to treat canine obesity.

Keep reading below to understand more about this dangerous and common dog disease.

Obesity In Dogs: Recognizing It And How You Can Help

Diagnosing Canine Obesity

Canine obesity is usually diagnosed by measuring your dog’s body weight and getting its BCS.

Indoors, the easiest way to establish canine obesity is by following the universal BCS system.

If your pet scores higher results than the normal, according to the general body condition measurements, then your dog is considered to be obese.

If that’s the case, the first step you need to take is to visit the veterinarian in order to rule out any deep-rooted causes and begin a weight management program as soon as possible.

However, bear in mind that sometimes, these weight management programs are quite pricey, and include purchasing specific healthier and organic food for lower calorie intake for your pup.

Besides, untreated obesity in dogs can lead to more severe conditions and develop an increased risk for various types of cancer, heart disease, diabetes mellitus, osteoarthritis, urinary bladder stones, and faster degeneration of affected joints.

These conditions are the main reason behind the increasing number of pet owners utilizing the benefits of pet insurance, which can ease the veterinary costs regarding important pet care decisions.

Obesity In Dogs: Recognizing It And How You Can Help

Causes Of Canine Obesity

There are several common causes of dog obesity, most notably an imbalance between calorie intake and energy usage, or to put it differently, your dog eats more calories than it expends. 

Obesity in dogs is also more common in more senior years since the average dog’s ability to exercise decreases due to arthritis and other health conditions.

Offering your dog high-calorie foods and treats on an everyday basis can also aggravate its overweight condition.

However, some other factors may contribute to canine obesity, which we’ll divide into several separate categories: 


Overfeeding occurs when you’re feeding your dog more than it can spend by exercising. Contribution of other dietary factors like offering your dog table scraps, high-calorie foods, a larger number of meals and treats, and frequent dietary changes can also do their part with overfeeding and obesity. 

The misconception of the dog’s body condition, as sometimes the dog’s owner is not able to recognize that obesity is present.

Insufficient exercise or not providing your indoor dog with the recommended amount of exercise or walks can also be a cause.


Age as dogs that are older than 5 years of age usually diminish voluntary activity and also burn fewer fats on a daily basis.  

Genetic predisposition makes it normal for some breeds to be naturally predisposed to being overweight, for instance, the labrador retrievers, English bulldogs, dachshunds, spaniels, beagles, etc.

Surgical And Medicinal

Once castrating is done, it decreases the production of sex hormones and energy spending of your dog and also causes increased hunger.

Phenobarbital may decrease satiation which can lead to overeating.

Numerous diseases including hypothyroidism, insulinoma, and hyperadrenocorticism can all contribute to weight gain and lead to dog obesity.

Obesity In Dogs: Recognizing It And How You Can Help

Treatment Of Canine Obesity

As in humans, treatment of obesity in dogs is focusing on weight loss succeeded by maintaining a lifelong healthy weight balance.

This entails a reduction of calorie intake and enhanced exercise in a daily routine.

Your veterinarian can give you recommendations on feeding times, portion sizes, proper food, treat frequency, and a good exercise program. 

Because the proteins and fibers are known to stimulate the metabolism and increase satiation, dog food that’s high in protein and low in fats can help you out the most when battling with your dog’s weight problems.

Minimize treats

The elimination of table scraps and the frequent yet unnecessary treats is also significant.

Alternatively, you can try offering your dog vegetables instead of the usual high-calorie treats.

After all, there’s a wide range of prescription and commercial dog food available on the market that is properly formulated, and it’s the best solution for weight loss and weight maintenance.

Dietary changes

In general, dietary changes must be made slowly to prevent upsetting the stomach.

Unless your veterinarian directs otherwise, once you buy your dog a new food, mix half of it with the old one and give this mix to your dog for seven days in a row.

After that period, you can securely continue feeding your dog with only the new food.     


Exercising is also as important as the diet when trying to maintain a healthy body mass.

Nowadays, there are plenty of options for dog exercises, including outdoor play activities, 30-minute daily walks, treadmill training drills, or even swimming in a dog spa center.

Taking your dog to spend time at a dog daycare center two times a week can induce exercise and playtime.   


If your dog is a fast eater, you can try to supply its food on a specially crafted bowl that requires your dog to ‘work’ to get every single piece of food.

Another great tool you can utilize is the treat ball which dispenses a treat only when the dog is rolling it around.

Final Words

There is no quick way to treat canine obesity.

However, the most important thing is to diagnose it early and begin the treatment right away.

As with every other disease, the best solution is prevention, so take proactive steps to maintain your pet’s normal weight and implement a healthy diet from its early days.

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