29 May 2008
- Feeding Habits: Much of the rise in canine obesity can be blamed on feeding habits – namely giving your dog access to a bowl of dog food 24/7. (It’s known as “free choice” in some professional circles.) Overfeeding at select meal times can be just as bad. High-calorie treats and table snacks only add to the problem.
Lack of Exercise: The formula for eating vs. exercise is pretty straightforward: When your furry friend takes in more calories than he or she expends, they’re going to put on weight. Many dogs simply aren’t getting enough exercise to compensate for how much they eat.
- Neutering: Being neutered lowers the metabolic rate in dogs, which can lead to extra weight gain if feeding is not adjusted. Even so, the health benefits of spaying or neutering, as well as eliminating behavior disorders related to the mating instinct and unwanted litters, far outweigh the risk of a slower metabolism and potential weight gain. A balanced diet and exercise can help keep your neutered dog from gaining weight.
Slow Metabolism: Just like you, your dog’s metabolism slows with age. Most dogs start to show that middle-age spread by age 5 or 6. (Any dog overweight at 2 years of age is a sign of real trouble ahead.)
Breed: Genetics play a role, too. Certain breeds are simply more prone to weight gain, notably beagles, cocker spaniels, collies, shelties, basset hounds, dachshunds and Labrador/golden retrievers.
Hormonal Disorders: A wide array of hormonal disorders and other ailments also lead to or complicate canine obesity. They range from hypothyroidism to Cushing’s disease (hyperadrenocorticism).