With pet obesity on the rise, more and more owners are asking questions about the consequences of overfeeding their dogs. One of the most commonly asked questions is, “How long do obese dogs live?” New research suggests that obese dog risks losing up to 2 years of their life due to their excess body fat. But why is this the case? And how can we help overweight dogs to live happy, healthy lives?
An obese dog’s lifespan is cut short for several reasons. Vets see these problems often, with obese dogs at greater risk of health complications. Many obese dogs are at risk of side effects or even death after surgery, they struggle with heat tolerance, and are much more prone to illnesses that can reduce their lifespan.
What is Obesity in Dogs?
The accumulation of excess body fat in pets is what we refer to as obesity. Although there is no standard definition for obesity in pets, it is generally defined as anything above 30% of a pet’s ideal body weight.
Studies have shown that around 25 to 30% of dogs are overweight, with 1 in 3 being considered obese by Banfield Pet Hospital. This trend is concerning as obesity can lead to health problems and decrease a dog’s lifespan.
It is crucial to be aware of your dog’s ideal body weight, so you can notice any changes in their weight and take action. Signs of overweight pets include difficulty seeing or feeling their ribs, spine, and waistline, sagging stomach, and a fuller face.
An overweight dog may also show reluctance to exercise or walk, tire easily, and excessively pant after activities. If you notice any of these signs or symptoms, it is best to speak to a veterinarian.
It’s important to remember that some of these signs could also indicate other conditions such as osteoarthritis. The sooner you address your dog’s weight concerns, the better their outlook for a healthier life
How Long Can They Live?
A study conducted over two decades revealed that obese dogs may have a lifespan reduced by up to 2 and a half years. Previously, it was believed that obesity only reduced a dog’s lifespan by 6 to 12 months.
It was once thought that fat was only a storage of excess energy and did not impact the body’s overall functioning. Recent research, however, suggests that fat is biologically active. It stores energy, secretes inflammatory hormones, and causes oxidative stress to the body.
Therefore, obesity acts almost like a chronic inflammatory condition, which increases a dog’s risk for various health issues such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, osteoarthritis, urinary bladder stones, and anesthetic complications.
Overweight Dog Lifespan: FAQ
Still asking the question, “how long do obese dogs live?” Feel free to check out our Frequently Asked Questions section for more details. And, if in doubt, always check in with your vet for advice.
When your dog is obese, your first port of call should be to talk to your vet. If your dog’s diet is appropriate, an underlying condition could be responsible for their weight gain. Once an underlying condition has been ruled out, your vet can suggest a suitable diet and exercise plan for your pup. Furthermore, your vet will want to regularly weigh your dog to check on their progress.
The most convenient way to incorporate exercise into your dog’s weight loss routine is by adjusting their daily walks. Walking a dog for weight loss is different than walking for pleasure. Unfortunately, very few pet parents walk at a pace that will help their dogs to lose weight. So, your objective is to walk at a pace that will encourage weight loss. For most overweight and obese dogs, providing they are otherwise healthy, it’s best to walk at a 12 to 15 minute per mile pace. This should feel like a brisk walk and should cause a light sweat. In contrast, most pet parents walk their dogs at a 25 minute per mile pace, making frequent pauses along the way.
How often to walk your overweight dog for weight loss depends on their condition. If your dog is otherwise healthy and has no pre-existing heart, respiratory, or joint problems, it is usually safe to start with 30 minutes of brisk walking, 5 days a week. Be sure to talk to your vet before changing your dog’s diet and exercise regime.
For many dogs, a vet can prescribe a special diet to help them to lose weight. These diets have a set number of calories. Because of this, it’s important to measure their food for every meal, so that you can keep track of the number of calories your dog is getting. Feeding too much will cause your dog to not lose weight, and feeding too little can cause problems with malnutrition. It’s important to heed your vet’s advice if you wish to improve your obese dog’s lifespan!
You can evaluate your dog’s body condition at home using a body condition score (BCS) chart. A BCS is a number given to your pet based on their fat distribution. A BCS ranges from 1 to 9, but some vets use a 1 to 5 scale instead. As such, a BCS of 1 means that your dog is severely underweight. On the other side of the spectrum, a BCS of 9 (or 5, respectively) means that your dog is severely overweight. The ideal score is 4 to 5 out of 9. For every number above 5, your dog is 10% overweight. So, a dog with a BCS of 7 is about 20% overweight, according to this system.
Dog obesity is a common problem, but it’s also reversible. If your dog is overweight, be sure to talk to your vet as soon as possible. Your vet can prescribe a diet for your dog, as well as give advice on an exercise regime.