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In the present day, obesity is one of the main health problems facing people living in the western world, with many foods containing harmful and fattening additives. It should come as no surprise then that our pets are also suffering from this condition, which can result in extremely dangerous complications as time goes on. It is not unusual for dogs that are obese to end up suffering from heart disease, joint problems and even illnesses like diabetes as a result of their weight. However, dogs do not become fat for no reason – there are clear reasons for obesity that can mostly be prevented fairly easily. By taking the simple steps required in order to prevent needless weight gain, owners can ensure the long-term health of their dog.
Causes And Prevention Of Obesity
Poor Diet – Primarily, weight gain is influenced by the amount and the quality of food the dog eats. Many low-quality types of commercial dog food will commonly use cheap fillers such as corn to bulk out the contents of the container, spreading the actual meat thin and providing the dog with a lot of empty calories instead of protein. This alone can be a problem, as it can result in the dog becoming quite malnourished and developing a host of other health problems. Additionally, it can be tempting to allow the dog to eat foods designed for humans, which can end up with them absorbing excessive amounts of unhealthy fats. To combat this, owners should consider the specific dietary needs of a dog; specifically protein, healthy fats and essential oils. All of these things can be found in abundance in meals consisting of red meats, poultry and fish. However, financial concerns can often push people away from high quality dog food and make it difficult to prepare homemade meals for the dog. In such situations, the dog can be provided with dietary supplements, which can give the dog its requisite minerals, oils and vitamins in the form of a pill.
Lack Of Exercise – Another prime contributor to obesity is a lack of sustained physical activity. In the wild, canines are constantly in motion, which helps to burn off excess fat and keep their cardiovascular system functioning correctly. Domesticated dogs however, can quickly become accustomed to a relatively sedentary lifestyle and may become unwilling to engage in activities such as walks or other activities. Combined with a bad diet, this problem can be especially apparent, as the dog will often end up lacking the energy to actually move for prolonged periods of time. Nonetheless, the responsibility remains with the owner to make sure that their dog maintains a healthy level of exercise. This can be accomplished via several means. The first method is to establish a system of rewards for going on walks and engaging in activities such as games of ‘fetch’. This system can help to somewhat condition the dog, but it does come with the possible side-effect of building expectation of reward whenever the animal makes the effort to go outside. The second (and more effective) method is to get the dog professional training, which can help instill discipline and responsiveness to commands. In the long term, this is very useful as it allows owners to get their dog active firstly and then build enjoyment via rewards and games later on down the line. It should be kept in mind that a dog that has been allowed to become sedentary for a prolonged period should not be forced to do vigorous exercise right away, as this can result in injuries to its joints and musculature that can get worse over time.
Glandular Problems – A common medical factor behind obesity can be the disruption of hormone production in the dog’s body due to illness, injury or even surgery. The most common of these issues is hyperthyroidism, which typically occurs as a result of growths appearing in the animal’s thyroid gland. These are often cancerous in nature and can go on to cause problems in other organs, resulting in other unpleasant symptoms and even death. The thyroid can also malfunction as a result of genetic problems, causing the dog to appear fat even from a young age. Both of these problems can be detected via genetic testing of the dog at birth, which can give the owner advance warning of possible problems that may appear. That said, regular checkups with a vet may be needed in order to catch the warning signs that a tumor or other problem with the thyroid is starting to develop. Additionally, neutering a dog can also result in weight gain. There are two main reasons for this, the first being lethargy stemming from a steep drop in the animal’s testosterone levels, and the other being due to other hormones (such as estrogen) taking precedence in the dog’s body. This can result in the body storing far more fat than it had previously and not prompting the dog to move and burn it off. Neutering the animal at an early age will usually not result in these problems, but owners should still try to avoid neutering an older animal if they want to avoid these side effects.
Effects Of Prevention
After a dog has been started on preventative measures to counter obesity, its quality of life will dramatically increase, along with the owner. The most obvious reason for this is the fact that the dog will be able to dodge many of the health complaints that plague overweight animals, thus meaning there will need to be less time and money spent having procedures performed by the vet. Secondly, the dog will have a markedly increased level of happiness, becoming much more sociable and pleasant to be around. This goes for training also, as a professional dog trainer will be able to help a person communicate more effectively with their pet and set clear rules and expectations that can help eliminate bad behavior. Additionally, taking the time to bring the dog along on multiple walks will not only keep them fit, it will have an added benefit of enhancing their owner’s cardio levels, making them healthier as well.
Dogs can be a demanding animal to take care of, requiring large amounts of attention and care in order to remain healthy. However, obesity can be easily tackled with just a few minor lifestyle changes, making it one of the easiest serious health problems to avoid. Dog owners should also be aware that many of the physical activities that help to keep their pet in good shape will also work to improve their own fitness, giving extra incentive to people who are committed to improving. Given the wealth of information available from a host of experts (including nutritionists, vets and fitness coaches) regarding tackling obesity, there are precious few excuses for not taking action at the soonest opportunity.