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How is obesity defined?

Obesity is caused by an imbalance in energy intake and energy expenditure.

How can I tell if my dog is obese?

An obese dog is one in which the ribs are hard to feel as they are covered by a thick layer of fat, there is a moderate to thick layer of fat covering all the bony prominences, a fat deposit at the tail base and there is no waist visible as you view him from above.

What causes obesity?

There are many factors that contribute to obesity, some of which can be prevented or controlled and others of which cannot be prevented or controlled.

1.  Over-Eating  

2. Lack of exerc ise

3. Genetics (certain breeds have a higher incidence of obesity: Labrador, Dachshund, Cavelier King Charles, Cocker Spaniels, Beagles, Bassets and Shelties)

4. Endocrine disorders (Hypothyroidism and Cushings)

5. Sterilisation (metabolism can drop between 10 and 30% post sterilisation)

6. Age (drop in metabolism and lack of exercise)

What will happen if my dog doesn’t lose weight?

Decreased life expectancy, Exercise and heat intolerance, Compromised immune function, Diabetes mellitus, Heart and lung disease, Arthritis, Pancreatitis, Decreased fertility and increased dystocia (difficulty giving birth, )Anaesthetic risk™

But my dog hardly eats anything?

This is one of the most common phrases heard by the vet. It may be that your dog eats very little but if he is overweight then this is still too much for his metabolism to cope with. It may be a helpful exercise to write down over a few days exactly what your dog does eat, including all the titbits. You may be surprised.

How do I get my dog to lose weight?

Decrease calorie intake and increase energy expenditure.

Expect the weight loss to occur over a protracted period of time. Sustainable weight loss takes time and a consistent change in habits.

Use a combination of a low calorie diet and increase his exercise levels

Low calorie diets can either be high in protein (Atkins diet) or high in roughage (Salad diet). Either are designed to keep your dog sated for as long as possible by slow glucose release mechanisms. Drop the titbits. Everything adds up.

Increase exercise over a period of time. There haven’t been any studies conducted to conclusively define how much exercise is necessary but we can extrapolate from human studies and adjust for size. 30-60 minutes 5 times a week seems to be the general consensus. You can achieve this with a combination of swimming, walking and playing. Just be aware that strenuous fetch games may in fact damage joints and ligaments if not built in to a sensible fitness regime.