Dangerous Diseases For Dogs: The Growing Obesity Epidemic

According to research from the Australian Veterinary Association, doctors studying the growing obesity epidemic have found the prevalence of overweight animals in our country to be “alarmingly high.” Their data on over 2,500 dogs showed 35.5% of them were overweight and 7% of them were considered obese. Overseas animals didn’t fare much better with 44% of dogs being overweight along with 40% of cats being too large.

Here in Australia, the prevalence of overweight and obese dogs when combined together tips 41% and the risk of them getting even larger increases with age. For some reason, rural dogs seem to be at a greater risk for obesity compared to their urban and suburban counterparts. Further research has found:

  • Female dogs, those who are neutered, older and not exercised are at the greatest risk.
  • Owners who are obese themselves and have only one animal are more likely to have an overweight or obese dog.
  • An overweight animal has a much shorter life span and poor quality of life.
  • 95% of obesity cases must be treated through the control of caloric intake and exercise.
  • Dogs are more likely to have weight problems compared to cats.

Obesity comes with a multitude of medical issues including osteoarthritis, heart disease, diabetes, liver disease and increased surgical risks. Symptoms of an overweight animal include:

  • Lethargy and general laziness
  • A “waddling” type of gait where the animal seems to wobble from side to side
  • Difficulty breathing, labored and noisy breaths with crackling or wheezing sounds
  • An intolerance for exercising and/or becoming overly tired after very little activity
  • “Rolls” on their back or hind quarters (unless they are breed indicative like a Shar Pei)
  • An inability to feel their rib cage
For more information on pet obesity and other health issues that can affect our dogs, please see this infographic, “The Most Dangerous Diseases For Dogs.”

Article and infographic by Amber Kingsley