By Dr. R. Selvakkumar, M.V.Sc., Ph.D.,(LPM)

Author is Professor and Head, Department of Livestock Production Management, Veterinary College and Research Institute, Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University

Explore the heartwarming documentary ‘Elephant Whispers’ by Kartiki Gonsalves, an Academy Award-winning film that highlights the touching bond between rescued elephants and their human parents. The film’s message of coexistence with nature and caring for abandoned pets resonates, inspiring a more empathetic approach towards animals.

Obesity can be defined as an excess accumulation of body fat. If the body weight is 10-20 percent excess than normal body weight, it is considered overweight and more than 20% is known as obese. Excess body weight can affect the normal routine and can also be a predisposing factor for many diseases.

Mechanised living atmosphere and busy day-to-day activity resulted in reduced physical activity in humans and made them obese. Further, due to our busy schedules, we are unable to spend time with our pets. This made them stay idle and indoors without any exercise and made them overweight. Further, most of the pet owners didn’t know about the actual quantity of food required for their pets and fed them ad libitum. All of these factors lead to obesity in dogs. Obese dogs are more prone to many health issues than dogs with ideal body weight.  So, we should always feed our dogs based on the actual quantity required by them and feed them with the requirement that varies with the following factors:

  • Age
  • Physiological status
  • Activity of the pet

When it is said to be obese?

To judge a dog whether a dog is obese or not, we should know about the actual weight of the dog at various ages and physiological states. The normal body weight of a dog varies with breed and sex. The below table illustrates the normal body weight of males and females of some familiar breeds of dogs.

Ideal body weight (Kg) of popular body weight

Dog Breed

Male

Female

Beagle 13-16 11-13
Boxer 30-32 25-27
Chihuahua 1.5-3 1.5-3
Cocker Spaniel 13-16 12-15
Dalmatian 27 25
Daschund-standard 7-14 7-14
Doberman Pinscher 34-41 29.5-36
German Shepherd 34-38.5 27-32
Golden Retriever 31.7-36.3 27.2-31.7
Great Dane 54-91 45-59
Grey hound 30-32 27-20
Labrador Retriever 29-36 25-31
Lhasa Apso 7 6-7
Pomeranians 3-5 2-3.5
Pug 6-9 6-8
Rottweiler 45.5-54.5 36-41
St. Bernards 64 – 82 50-64
Whippet 10-13 8-11

Signs in overweight/ obese dog

  • Struggling to see or feel the normal body shape like chest, waistline etc.
  • Bigger, rounder face and neck
  • Folding of skin
  • Reluctance to go for walks and reduced physical activity.
  • excessive panting
  • Easily get tired

Predisposing factors for obesity in dogs:

All the dogs are not affected by obesity but all have a chance to become obese. The predisposing factors for obesity in dogs are:

  • Certain breeds are more prone to become obese than other breeds (Labrador Retrievers). Further, small breeds are at high risk.
  • compared to their counterpart, female dogs are more prone to obesity.   
  • Neutered dogs have higher chances to become obese due to hormonal changes incurred by sterilization.
  • Rearing style and atmosphere are also predisposing factors. A dog with low physical activity can easily gain weight. The kind, quantity of food, and treats provided for them is also the main determining factor for the body weight of the pets.
  • Some health issues and hormonal problems also play a role in obesity in dogs.

Consequences of  obesity:

Like us, obese pets are also more prone to many health problems:

  • Heart diseases- due to high cholesterol levels, obese dogs are at high risk of heart diseases.
  • Arthritis– heavy body weight is the prime cause of arthritis in dogs and if the dogs are affected by this condition, it is difficult to reduce the body weight through physical exercise.
  • Increased heat sensitivity
  • Diabetes Mellitus

Handling of obese/ overweight dogs:

Proper exercise

By proper exercise and dietary changes, we can keep the body weight of the pet under control. Based on the severity, increase the time for exercise. Further, increase the exercise time gradually to avoid untoward incidence.  

Proper and regular exercise helps to burn off energy. Avoid over-exercising until exhaustion. Make the indoor environment suitable for making the animal active. Further, the duration of exercise varies with the age, sex, breed, and physical condition of the dog. In a doubt raising situation, consult your Vet.  

Proper feed and feeding regimen

Food is the prime factor for most of the obesity problems in dogs. The quantity of the feed given to the animal should always fulfil the requirement and beyond that. The quantity of feed required by the dog varies with age, sex, body weight, and physical condition of the dog. Hence, all the above factors should be considered before formulating and providing a diet to your pets. Don’t feed your dog with the remainder of the dining table. Strictly follow a schedule while feeding your dog.

Differentiate between begging and hunger and feed accordingly. Use treats with low calories.   

If the above is not worthwhile, contact your Vet to diagnose and eliminate the root cause for obesity.  

If you take an effort to prevent or correct obesity, it will definitely result in a longer and healthier life for your pet. 

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