Canine Obesity: Why it is Harmful to Your Dog

Canine Obesity: Why it is Harmful to Your Dog

Dogs are a great companion for any pet owner. It is important that you keep them healthy and happy. Unlike humans, dogs do not seem so concerned about their weight. However, owners should be cautious that their canine companion does not get too overweight. 

In 2018, the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention reported that 55.8% of dogs were deemed overweight or obese. It can be a struggle to make sure that pets get the right amount of exercise and proper nutrition. It is important to find the best weight loss method for your dog.  

You may still be wondering why it is critical that dogs are not obese. Here are the reasons why too much weight can be harmful to their health. 

Diseases Caused by Obesity

Respiratory Diseases

A dog's respiratory system can be negatively affected by obesity. Smaller dogs are more likely to suffer from tracheal collapse. Tracheal collapse is a condition where the rings in the trachea give in, making it harder for air to pass through. Obesity can also contribute to other respiratory diseases such as laryngeal paralysis and brachycephalic airway obstruction syndrome. These conditions can be detrimental to a dog's health if not treated. 

Cardiovascular Diseases

Obesity can affect a dog's cardiovascular system by altering the heart rhythm. It also affects the left ventricular volume and can lead to high blood pressure. As a result, high blood pressure may cause hypertension. Some studies suggest that obesity plays a major factor in a dog developing hypertension, which is a characteristic of other health conditions. It is necessary that your dog's cardiovascular system is healthy. 

Orthopedic Disorders

Orthopedic disorders are conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system. In humans, these types of diseases would include arthritis and muscle atrophy. Obesity in dogs may contribute a lot to orthopedic disorders. In dogs, there is a link between increased weight and the development of humeral condylar fractures. One study found that obese Cocker Spaniels were more likely to have these fractures and a cranial cruciate ligament rupture. Osteoarthritis is another condition that can occur in obese dogs. However, several studies suggest that weight loss can improve the condition. 


Also known as high cholesterol, hyperlipidemia may be linked to obesity in dogs. Research has shown that the serum triglyceride concentration in obese dogs was higher than non-obese dogs. This suggests that dogs may experience lipid alterations and high cholesterol levels. Changes in the concentrations appeared similar to insulin resistance seen in diabetes. The buildup of triglycerides and other fats can be harmful to a dog's health. There is a chance that hyperlipidemia can lead to heart problems. Keeping your dog at a normal weight can help prevent hyperlipidemia. 


Just like humans, dogs can get diabetes. There are several causes that may lead to diabetes in dogs. Obesity can play a part in the development of this condition. Studies have shown that obesity may increase the risk of insulin resistance. Insulin resistance contributes to type 2 diabetes. Dogs will hardly get type 2 due to their pancreas being able to handle an increase in insulin production. However, type 1 is more common, and obesity may still play a role. Excessive weight may increase the chances of pancreatitis. Pancreatitis can cause an inflammation that will damage the beta cells in the pancreas. 


Excessive weight may cause heatstroke in dogs, especially if they live in warmer climates. The reason why heatstroke occurs is that the increase in fat raises the body's insulation. Insulation helps trap heat to keep the body warm. Obese dogs will have less heat escaping, which is detrimental during the summer. As a result, they are at a higher risk of getting heatstroke. Exercise can help with weight loss, but dogs can still generate heat while on a walk. While increased weight is not the only factor, it can help to keep your dog's weight maintained. Make sure to look out for signs of a possible heatstroke. 

Decreased Lifespan

Studies have shown that obesity can have a negative impact on a dog's lifespan. One study by the Banfield Pet Hospital found that there was a link between obesity and the life span of 12 breeds. Research showed that obese dogs live roughly 2.5 years less than dogs that had a healthy weight. It may not seem like a lot, but it can mean the world to you and your dog. The study only researched 12 breeds, with the reduction in lifespan differing slightly. The results still emphasized the need for veterinarians and owners to take preventative measures, especially for older dogs. 

Keeping Your Dog at a Healthy Weight

Dogs are valuable companions, and you will want to do everything you can to keep them healthy and happy. Each dog is different, so you will need to create a weight-loss treatment that is suitable for them. One option is increasing their physical activity. When used alongside other methods, you may see significant changes in your dog's weight. Activities can include walking or swimming regularly. An active lifestyle can help prevent weight gain that may occur after losing weight.  

Maintaining a nutritional diet will help with weight management. You do not need to feed your dog less. Instead, there are plenty of diet options that are formulated to help obese dogs get back to a normal body condition. Diets can include special dog foods and supplements. It is important to speak to your veterinarian to determine what treatment is right for your dog.  


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