Rowan Sanderson sits down with Dr. Brendan Clarke, President of the Raw Feeding Veterinary Society (RFVS) to discuss issues associated with obesity in dogs, including the first thing pet parents should do to help their obese dog.
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The Difference Between “Overweight” and “Obese”
Obesity is one of the biggest crises taking place in both the human and dog spheres, especially in the Western world. In particular, the problem with obesity is in the diseases it can cause. Measuring for obesity does not necessarily rely on where your dog is on the scale. “It is not about how much they weigh,” says Dr. Brendan. “It’s about what their body condition score is.”
德国赛车The body condition score is usually a scale of 1 to 5 (sometimes 1 to 9), where the midpoint represents ideal weight. Dr. Brendan has seen many dogs that are ranked beyond 5 on the scale because of the sheer amount of fat they have accumulated.
Symptoms Associated with Obesity
It is clear from just one look at these dogs that they are experiencing issues related to carrying excess body fat, including strain on their joints (a precursor to arthritis), laboured breathing, etc.
德国赛车Other than the physical disadvantages of carrying too much body fat, common issues among obese dogs are respiratory difficulties, liver-related symptoms, metabolic diseases (i.e. diabetes), and circulatory problems (i.e. constriction of vessels).
The First Thing Owners of an Obese Dog Should Do
An owner of an obese dog, in order to proactively address this issue, should first sit down and set a realistic goal. For example, if the dog is at a body condition score of 4 (overweight, but not necessarily obese), the owner should set a 12-week (3-month) goal to get the dog back to a 3. The point is not to put the dog on a crash diet when addressing excess body fat.
Dr. Brendan recommends moving the overweight or obese dog off a carb-based diet and towards cooked lean meats or, even better, a raw diet. It is key to make the diet more “species-appropriate, biologically digestible, and metabolizable”.One other tip is to pay attention to everyone who is feeding the dog. For example, a family may have a relative who visits regularly and “confuses love with food” by offhandedly giving the dog “three slices of toast and a couple of chocolate biscuits” under the table during meals. Check with the whole 德国赛车family. “Check what treats are being used, who is using them, and how they are being used.”
The Two-Edged Sword of Exercising an Overweight Dog
德国赛车Exercise is another great activity to help your dog lose weight; but you must be careful. An obese dog has a lot of load on their joints, so the wrong type of exercise can exacerbate these issues.
If they like to swim, hydrotherapy is one way to exercise your dog without stressing their joints. In terms of energy expenditure, a four-minute swim can actually be worth the same as a 20 to 30 minute run at the park. Otherwise, a gradual period of increasing exercise is the way to go for an overweight dog.
德国赛车Finally, work the brain, not just the muscles, since thinking takes energy as well. Training your dog is great exercise for your dog’s mind.
Supplements and Other Considerations
There are a variety of supplements and medications that can help your dog lose weight. Dr. Brendan advises owners to be wary of fads such as the overemphasis today on coconut oil, turmeric, and other “cure-alls”.
德国赛车As always, Dr. Brendan reminds dog owners to check in with their vet or a credible support community such as Bella & Duke instead of trying to figure things out on their own.