New Data: Obesity Takes Years of Life from Our Dogs

Many dog owners regard obesity in their best friends with indifference or perhaps mild amusement. But new research tells us that this health condition is taking years from the lives of our dogs. It varies by breed. For German Shepherds, the difference was half a year. For Yorkies, it was two and a half years.

Senior Author Alex German explained the significance:

A two-and-a-half year shortening of the life span may not seem a huge amount, but when we convert to human terms, we’re probably looking at between 10 and 15 years of shortened life span, which is considerable.

We know that in people, there’s a higher risk of mortality if they have obesity, so in many respects this is not surprising.

50,00 Dogs, 12 Breeds

To arrive at these conclusions, German and his colleagues collected data from a network of 900 veterinary hospitals in the U.S. They studied 12 of the most popular breeds and examined health records for 50,787 individual animals. They used a retrospective, case-control study design.

And they found for every breed that the instantaneous risk of death for dogs with an overweight body condition was greater.

Practical Advice

Measuring obesity and a dog’s caloric intake can seem like a rather tedious undertaking. But it doesn’t have to be. German tells us:

If your dog is in a standing position, run your hands along their flanks. Generally speaking, with no pressure, you should be able to feel the bumps of their ribs. If you have to push in, chances are your pet is carrying too much body fat.

In terms of feeding, owners should pay attention to how much they give their dogs. A regular feeding schedule is important. Two meals per day is a good pattern. In other words, measure out the food and let your dog know what to expect by being consistent. That consistency is an expression of love and caring.

Table scraps and treats can easily get out of hand. Once they add up to more than ten percent of what a dog is eating, your dog’s diet quickly becomes unhealthy.

Our dogs are a source for tremendous comfort and emotional health. And now, it seems that some of our own health issues are becoming their health issues. Perhaps deeper insights will follow.

Click here for the study and here for more on it from WebMD. For further perspective from BBC, click here.

Sawyer, photograph © Ted Kyle / flickr

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January 19, 2019

One Response to “New Data: Obesity Takes Years of Life from Our Dogs”

  1. January 19, 2019 at 8:04 pm, Allen Browne said:

    Of course, the big question is “What messes up the Energy Regulatory System in the dogs?” It might be the same thing(s) as for humans. Certainly an opportunity for a Nobel prize.