Many owners are unaware of the dangers of their obese or overweight dogs. Some owners even think their dog’s access weight makes them look adorable (which it may). But in all seriousness, an overweight dog is considered unhealthy, which is not so cute. We know it is difficult to say no to your dog’s big, innocent eyes, begging for one more scrap of bacon. Knowing the potential health hazards that an obese dog can face may make it easier to say no to that extra treat.
Obesity is one of the leading causes of arthritis in dogs. It puts tremendous stress on your dog’s joints, causing them to weaken significantly. This can cause extreme discomfort for dogs and keep them from doing what they love.
New research has also shown that adipose (fatty) tissue actively secretes inflammatory hormones. Increased inflammation causes more joint degeneration, leading to more arthritic pain. So, even being slightly overweight can predispose your dog to arthritis.
7. Diabetes Mellitus
Obese dogs are at a higher risk of developing diabetes. If a dog is overweight, this can lead to insulin resistance. If the body is not producing enough insulin, then it can cause damage to the pancreas, which can lead to uncontrolled levels of sugar.
Diabetes is a serious health concern, but it is manageable with daily insulin injections. Diabetic dogs also require routine bloodwork and hospital stays to ensure their diabetes is being controlled correctly. It can be a tricky balancing act when figuring out how much insulin a diabetic dog requires. These treatments and hospital stays can be very costly.
If diabetes is left untreated, it can cause blindness, cataracts, seizures, and kidney failure. Severe cases of untreated diabetes can lead to ketoacidosis, which can be life-threatening. Keeping your dog at an ideal weight can help decrease the chances of developing diabetes mellitus.
Although research is ongoing, studies show obesity may be predisposing them to some forms of cancer in dogs. The theory is that the overproduction of adipose (fatty) tissue causes an inflammatory effect that disrupts cell growth in dogs. Dogs that are obese are more likely to develop mast cell tumors, bladder cancer, and mammary (breast) tumors.
Cancer can be extremely costly and challenging to treat in dogs. An overweight dog will also face more challenges when undergoing surgical procedures and treatments that may be needed to eradicate their cancer.
5. Urinary Bladder Stones
Bladder stones are painful and develop for various reasons, some of which are still unknown. However, recent studies have shown that obese dogs seem to be more prone to developing these painful stones, particularly calcium oxalate stones. Calcium oxalate stones form when there is too much calcium oxalate in the urinary tract. They will continue to grow and can cause a urinary blockage and other painful symptoms.
4. Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)
This is a spinal disease that causes the discs in the spine to deteriorate. Without the support of these discs, the vertebrae can come into contact, causing severe pain. The weakened discs can also slip out of place (slipped disc) or protrude into the spinal cord space. IVDD can affect all shapes and sizes, but obese dogs are more likely to develop this painful condition.
A dog that suffers from IVDD will have trouble running, playing, jumping, and in severe cases, may need surgery or a wheelchair to be mobile. Certain dog breeds are predisposed to Intervertebral Disc Disease, but any overweight dog is at risk.
3. High Blood Pressure
Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure. It’s a cardiovascular issue that is seen in both people and dogs. It occurs when the veins become narrowed, which causes blood to flow through the body less efficiently. This causes pressure to build up in those narrow points throughout the body. Like people, overweight and obese dogs are more likely to develop hypertension.
Signs of hypertension in dogs include sudden blindness, head tilt or other neurological symptoms, increased drinking and urination, and epistaxis (nosebleed). Hypertension in dogs can be challenging to detect early on. This is because dogs don’t get their blood pressure checked at routine exams. They are usually too nervous or excited to get an accurate blood pressure reading. So, if you notice any of the above symptoms, ask your vet to check your dog’s blood pressure.
2. Heat Stroke
Heat stroke can affect any dog, but brachycephalic (short-snouted) dogs and overweight dogs are more at risk. Obese dogs have more trouble regulating their internal body temperature, putting them at increased danger of overheating.
Signs of heat stroke in dogs include excessive panting, drooling, vomiting, bloody stool, and more. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s essential to contact your vet right away. Untreated heatstroke can lead to organ failure and, in severe cases, death. Ensuring you know how to prevent heatstroke is critical for any dog owner, especially when your dog is overweight.
1. Liver Disease
The liver has many functions, one of them being metabolizing nutrients, including fats. Overweight dogs can overwhelm their liver and cause a buildup of fatty molecules. This weakens the efficiency of the liver and can lead to liver disease and even liver failure. This is called fatty liver disease and is more commonly seen in cats but can also affect obese or overweight dogs.
Loss of appetite, weight loss, yellow pigmented skin, and vomiting are symptoms of liver disease in dogs. Contacting your vet right away is essential if you notice any of these symptoms.
Keeping your dog active and having a healthy, balanced diet is essential to your dog’s health. If you are unsure of your dog’s dietary needs, make an appointment with your vet to assess your dog's body condition.
Our dogs depend on us to provide them with the proper exercise and nutrition needed to live happy and long lives.