Tag Archives: pet obesity

Research reveals overweight dogs may live shorter lives

New research from the University of Liverpool and Mars Petcare’s WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition reveals overweight dogs are more likely to have shorter lives than those at ideal body weights.

Results from the study, conducted retrospectively across two decades and published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, revealed the lifespan of dogs that were overweight was up to two and a half years shorter when compared to ideal-weight dogs.

fat bulldog

The study examined more than 50,000 dogs across 12 of the most popular dog breeds. The effect of being overweight was seen in all breeds, although the magnitude of the effect differed, ranging from between five months less for male German Shepherds to two years and six months less for male Yorkshire Terriers.

Poorer quality of life

It is estimated that over a quarter of households (26%) in the UK and nearly half in the US (47.6%) own a dog. However despite our affection for canine companions, concern is growing that many pet owners are unaware of the serious health implications of dogs carrying extra weight. Pet obesity is steadily on the rise, with latest figures estimating one in three dogs and cats in the U.S. is overweight.

Although the study did not examine the reasons behind the extra pounds in dogs, feeding habits are thought to play a role in pet obesity. According to a recent Better Cities For Pets survey , more than half (54%) of cat and dog owners always or often give their pet food if they beg for it, and nearly a quarter (22%) of cat and dog owners sometimes overfeed their pet to keep them happy.

Study co-author and Professor of Small Animal Medicine at the University of Liverpool Alex German, said: “Owners are often unaware that their dog is overweight, and many may not realise the impact that it can have on health. What they may not know is that, if their beloved pet is too heavy, they are more likely to suffer from other problems such as joint disease, breathing issues, and certain types of cancer, as well as having a poorer quality of life. These health and wellbeing issues can significantly impact how long they live.

“For many owners, giving food, particularly tasty table scraps and tidbits, is the way we show affection for our pets. Being careful about what you feed your dog could go a long way to keeping them in good shape and enabling them to be around for many years to come.
“Worryingly, it is estimated only one in five pet owners always measures how much food they are giving their pet, with four in five (87%) always or often simply estimating the amount of food they think their pet needs at each serving.”

About the Study

The University of Liverpool and WALTHAM study was a retrospective, observational cohort study that leveraged demographic, geographic and clinical data from dogs that received care at BANFIELD® Pet Hospitals between April 1994 and September 2015. Data were available from 50,787 dogs across 12 of the most popular family breeds: Dachshund, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, American Cocker Spaniel, Beagle, Boxer, Chihuahua, Pit Bull Terrier, Pomeranian, Shih Tzu, and Yorkshire Terrier. For each breed, the lifespan dogs whose owners reported them to be overweight and those in optimal body condition was compared.

As the largest general-veterinary practice in the world, Banfield has more than 1,000 hospitals across the United States and Puerto Rico comprised of veterinary teams who are committed to providing high-quality veterinary care for more than three million pets annually. The data extracted for this study included demographic (breed, sex, neuter status and date of birth) and geographic (latitude and longitude of the owner’s postcode) variables, plus data collected during in-clinic visits (date of visit, bodyweight and if available body condition), and date of death. Pedigree status and date of birth are both owner-reported parameters and were not verified by veterinary staff.

Source:  University of Liverpool

Advertisements

The State of Pet Health in 2013 – The Banfield Report

As most of my regular readers know, I’m passionate about holistic health for our dogs. It helps, though, when we have statistics like the Banfield State of Pet Health Report 2013 to show us the ailments that are more common. In this report, we see that obesity and dental health are 2 major problems.

So ask yourself honestly – is my dog a bit heavier than he/she should be? Is the dog’s bad breath a sign of something more sinister? Through my practice, I can help dogs with both conditions (plus others, like arthritis).

Get in touch!

No Dog About It Blog

Chihuahua Wearing EyeglassesLast year, I shared a summary of Banfield Pet Hospital’s 2012 report on the state of pet health in America. The report was full of interesting information on the common ailments and diseases they see in the cats and dogs who visit their hospitals. It also called out a disturbing trend being seen in both types of pets – an increase in pet obesity.

In their 2013 State of Pet Health Report, Banfield shares even more interesting information on the average lifespan of pets and some frequently occurring themes (also seen in the 2012 report). This year’s report provides pet owners and veterinarians with even greater insight into the health of all our pets and where we should be focusing our attention.

Here is a summary of some of the more interesting findings:

  • Toy or smaller breed dogs live 41% longer than large breed dogs.
  • Large breeds reach their senior…

View original post 223 more words

Pet obesity at the molecular level

A University of Illinois research team led by Professor Kelly Swanson has published research which describes how nutrients and biological compounds in foods can affect gene expression in animals.

The research will help to understand the underlying reasons for obesity in pets.  Professor Swanson explains that obesity has its roots in the domestication of dogs.  Because dogs no longer hunt or compete for their food and are speyed or neutered (so not having to mate),  the typical dog has much smaller energy requirements than its forefathers.

The research team explains that when more energy (food) is consumed than is required, it is stored as fat in the adipose tissue (fat tissue).  Adipose tissue secretes more than 50 substances known as adipokines, which are cell-signaling molecules that are involved in metabolism, immunity and inflammation.

In obese dogs, levels of the adipokine leptin increases while the levels of the  adipokine adiponectin decreases.

The researchers aim to study obesity at the molecular level, so they can help to prevent it happening.

Source:  University of Illinois media statement

Weight gain and obesity are not only human conditions

We live in modern times, and in western societies such as ours, obesity and weight gain are consistent problems.  And not just for people.

36 million pets in the United States are obese, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.  In dog population terms, that’s 55% of the dog population.  The Association does a pet obesity survey each year, timed with National Pet Obesity Prevention Day (in October), where it asks pet owners to fill out a survey about their pet’s size, breed and eating habits.

Veterinarian Ernie Ward is a co-founder of the Association and he says that the focus on reward-based training has helped to contribute to the obesity problem.  Simply put, owners are not adjusting their dog’s daily intake of food at mealtime to compensate for treats being given as a reward.

And once a dog is fully trained, the rewards seem to keep coming for sometimes very basic tasks.  Like pooping, for example.

(Ask yourself:  once your child is potty-trained, do you keep praising him/her each time they use the toilet? – even into their teenage and adult years?)

And I’ve found that delivering the news to a client that their dog could lose some weight can often be a reason for not being asked to return for another massage treatment.  According to a recent article in The Boston Globe, I’m not alone.  Vets that deliver the news that a pet is overweight may find that the owner becomes defensive or, worse, takes their business elsewhere!

However, when I am dealing with a dog with arthritis or other mobility disorder, I am looking for ways to relieve their pain.  If they are carrying around extra weight, their sore joints and muscles are pulling double-duty.  I remember a client with a Pug, for example, who was easily twice its normal body weight.  Sure, the dog had arthritis, but it was so fat that it didn’t want to exercise and so weight loss was going to be a challenge and something the owner had to a) recognise and b) act on.

The Globe article also discusses the wide range of calorie content amongst commercial dog foods.    People may change their dog’s food, but continue feeding the same number of cups per day.  Weight gain is insidious and many people don’t recognise that their dog has put on weight until a vet or someone else points it out to them.

I do nutritional assessments for this reason.  I ask questions about the dog’s lifestyle, exercise habits and eating.  And I can run caloric calculations based on the dog food label to give advice on how much to feed.

There are many health professionals including your vet that have your dog’s best interest at heart.  Don’t be afraid to ask if they think your dog is overweight and be humble enough to make changes.

P.S.  When I take Daisy to her acupuncture treatments, my vet asks me to weigh her prior to each consultation.  This keeps me very disciplined to ensure that Daisy remains in her ideal weight range.

Some full-service pet shops and veterinary practices are happy for you to drop in to use their scales.  Why not make it a habit of walking your dog to these places for a weigh-in?  It’s a new routine that will keep you focused on your dog’s weight in a more positive way.