PetFitness Blog – Pet Exercise, Workouts & Fitness Tips for Dogs

Here’s How Obesity Can Lower a Dog’s Lifespan

We admit, it’s adorable! The chubby, stubby legs. The little grunts they make as they roll from point A to point B. The snoring that somehow turns into your morning ASMR. Having an overweight dog is endearing, there’s more of them to love! But it turns out that obesity could be affecting them in more ways than you could ever imagine.

A two-decade study, published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, showed that the lifespan of an overweight dog is about 2 and a half years shorter than that of their normal-weight counterparts. The revealing study used over 50,000 dogs made up of 12 of the most popular breeds, and the same grim discovery reflected in all of them: overweight dogs don’t live as long as their fit counterparts. The saddest part is that certain breeds had a little more, or a little less time. For example, male German Shepherds averaged between 5 months less, while male Yorkies lost up to 2 years and 16 months. These are staggering facts on obesity that sadly most dog owners are completely unaware of. 

What’s even more concerning is that dog obesity is on the rise, with 1 in 3 dogs in the U.S. falling under the category. And with an obese dog comes a plethora of ghastly illnesses that affect their quality of life, including but not limited to:

  • Joint problems
  • Back problems
  • Inflammation (a silent killer)
  • Heart and lung issues

I know…it’s a lot to take in!  You’re not alone, though. Tons of owners with overweight dogs admit to giving their dogs a lil’ extra food because, like any doting parent, they want to make their four-legged child happy. It’s hard to turn down those puppy eyes, accompanied by an adorably wet nose fluttering at the aroma in the air. 

Back in the day when I got my first dog (a dachshund who’s thankfully now 13 years old), I didn’t know how serious nutrition, or even obesity was. Bonding time would be me sharing my dinner with Rover, even though he’d spent the entire day eating his own food. I’d feed him whatever the “vet recommended”, and would leave an unmeasured plate of kibbles on the floor throughout the day, leaving him to his own greedy devices. I wasn’t the only one. In fact, only 1 in 5 pet owners measure how much food they give their dog, while the others give it a good guesstimate. 

Fortunately for me, I found out about the importance of nutrition and how it could easily lead to obesity when done wrong. Determined to right my wrongs, I decided to make a move towards keeping Rover in shape, starting with these simple steps:

  1. I asked the vet about Rover’s ideal body weight, and what his feeding amounts should be.
  2. I made sure to give Rover the right amount of exercise for his particular breed.
  3. I quit giving into Rover’s puppy-dog eyes and refrained from giving him table scraps (some of which weren’t good for him in the first place *FART*).
  4. I started weighing him religiously, because even the slightest weight increase could have an impact and result in obesity.

Now, Rover’s a dashing chap who’s in shape and feels as good as he looks. At the rate he’s going, I need to start planning his 18th birthday! It’s never too late to make a change, and even the slightest tweaks can make a world of a difference.

If you suspect your dog may be affected by obesity, no worries, statistics show that 9 in 10 pet owners don’t know that their dog is obese. Check out our Instagram post, it’ll hopefully help you determine if your dog is overweight, underweight or just right. 

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