species: click on a picture:
A survey has shown that some 25 percent of dogs which visit
veterinary surgeries are fatter than they should be.
Of these, 4 percent were described as being gross, that is,
there was an obvious incapacity due to excess fat.
Suprisingly, less than 2 percent of all dogs were
classified as unduly thin. Labradors were much the most
likely to become obese, followed in descending order by
Cairns, Cocker Spaniles, Dachshunds, Shetland sheepdogs,
Basset hounds, Cavalier King Charles spaniels and Beagles.
Germen Shepherd dogs and Greyhounds were the least likely
to become too fat. Individuals which are neutered are about
twice as likely to become obese.
Fat is no
It isn’t fun being too heavy, it isn’t for dogs any more
than it is for us. Being grossly overweight due to an
accumulation of body fat brings with it health
complications as well, such as diabetes mellitus. Cats
though, are more careful feeders than dogs; less than 10
percent are believed to be obese, and they do seem to be
able to tolerate fatness better than dogs.
Dogs, cats and people who carry extra pounds of body fat
with them increase their chances of circulatory disease and
of doing considerable damage to their joints. Not only
that, they also decrease their chances of a peaceful old
Why do they
become too fat?
Why then, do some dogs become too fat? Dogs are, on the
whole, what might be termed oppurtunist feeders, they eat
as if every meal was their last – which is hardly the case
in most homes. Once the overweight state has been reached,
very fat dogs, just like very fat people, do not
necessarily eat very much. They have however, taken in more
food than they need at some time.
All food provides energy, usually measured as calories. If
more energy is taken in than used, the remaining energy is
stored as body fat. This then becomes a reserve which can
be drawn upon and is the key to slimming. Fat can only come
from food. Although spayed and castrated individuals are
more likely to become obese, t his is only because they
need less energy and probably make more efficient use of
the food they eat. The result is that a little more care is
needed in providing food supplies to neutered dogs and
cats. Looked at another way though: neutered animals can be
more economical to run!
Obesity is one of the easiest conditions to diagnose and
you don’t have to be a vet to spot it! Unfortunately owners
don’t usually attend clinics for their dog or cat’s
obesity. More often they present their animals with the
complications of being too fat. It is important to make
sure the extra weight is actually due to fat, although this
is something most of us can diagnose before the dog walks
in the door. However, we have to check that the dog’s
problems are not due to an accumulation of fluid or even
In order to reverse the situation the dog has to use up its
body reserves of energy, that is the excess fat. To do this
the dog has to take in less energy (calories) than it uses.
This doesn’t mean is has to be starved. In fact starvation
can mean that the dog’s muscles can be eroded to provide
protein. Better to find simply the point where food intake
is just less than energy needs. This way a steady, safe and
effective weight loss can be achieved. The following plan
can be adopted to bring this about:
• Examine and weigh the dog
• Find out what weight it should be, and set a target
• Allocate 60 percent of the food (preferably as a
proprietary obesity diet) a dog of the target weight would
• Provide absolutely nothing else except drinking water
• Weigh carefully every weake on the same scales at the
same time of day
• Every week there is no weight loss, reduce the allowed
amount by 20 percent until there is
• Then, usually after eight to twelve weeks, a maintenance
diet has to be allocated once the target weight has been
• Follow up examinations are crucial to keeping the dog in
In the end it is up to you as the owner to judge if your
dog is getting enough food or too much. It is not difficult
to do so, adjustments can then be made before it becomes a
major slimming operation.
Your dog will be the better for it.