According to a recent survey completed by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, almost 60% of dogs in the United States are considered overweight or obese. That’s 50 million pups - which can result in more serious conditions in senior dogs as weight gain complicates normal age-related challenges.
This is why the Global Pet Obesity Initiative (GPOI), consisting of 25 veterinary healthcare organizations, devised these 3 objectives:
- Call for the veterinary profession to adopt uniform nomenclature for canine and feline obesity
- Urge the global veterinary community to adopt a universal Body Condition Score for dogs and cats of whole-integer, one-through-nine (1–9) scale
- Call for the veterinary profession formally to recognize canine and feline obesity as a disease
- Standardized Definition
A variety of scoring systems leads to inconsistency in interpreting the results of scientific studies. By adopting a universal 9-unit body condition score system, the veterinary community can better interpret veterinary medical research, more consistently and accurately assess their patients’ body condition, and clearly communicate with colleagues and clients.
Many years ago, the World Health Organization (WHO), Center for Disease Control (CDC) and American Medication Association (AMA) declared obesity a disease in humans. By doing so, this accelerated innovation and treatments to the point that there are now tens of drugs and innumerable bariatric surgeries available. Sadly though, there are no approved obesity treatments in the United States for our pets. Pharmacology won’t develop a drug to help dogs loose poundage because obesity or being over-weight is not considered a disease.
So does obesity adversely affect a dogs overall quality of like? The answer is yes!
Extra fat means inflammation in the body. To help your dog live a longer, pain-free, disease-free life, it is important to maintain a healthy body condition. Ward recommends keeping yours dogs blood sugar stable as spikes in sugar can trigger an inflammatory cascade of adipose (fat) tissue.
According to the Association of Animal Hospitals, obesity can lead to:
- Reduced life expectancy and diminished quality of life
- Skin disorders
- Chronic inflammation
- Orthopedic disease
- Kidney dysfunction
- Respiratory disorders
- Metabolic endocrine disorders (i.e. diabetes)
It is important that pet parents discuss their pet’s weight, overall health, food and feeding habits with their veterinarian on a regular basis.
Ward stated that pet parents should also have their vet rule out any medical conditions that could be causing increased weight. Medical conditions like Hypothyroidism can cause weight gain while medications for seizures, steroids, and allergies can cause fat accumulation.
Additionally, it's also important that pet parents discuss mobility restrictions. If your dog injured his or her cruciate ligament, this would impact how you and your vet would construct and formulate the best weight loss program for your furry friend.
As far as exact numbers, remember that every dog is a unique. All steps and decisions should be discussed with your veterinarian who can determine your dog’s goal weight and help create a nutrition plan for your pet.
The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention shares a very basic guideline for average, lightly-active, adult spayed or neutered dogs:
10 lbs. dog should consume 200-275 calories daily
50 lbs. dog should consume 700-900 calories daily
90 lbs. dog should consume 1,100 – 1,350 calories daily
- Diligently keep at least a 1-week feeding and activity log
- Weigh your pet's food: a measuring cup of kibble can vary by 10%, so feeding as few as 10 extra pieces of kibble daily can cause weight gain
Talk with your vet about what aerobic activity your dog can do daily: 30 minutes a day, walk or play (swimming might be best for canines with joint issues)
Your pet's weight is not just about how your best friend looks, it’s about how he or she feels and making your pet's overall health a priority. Do your best to keep your dog as close to his or her ideal weight as possible for a longer, healthier life by your side!
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