A retrospective study involving 50,787 12 breeds of companion dog aged between 6½ and 8½ has found unequivocally that carrying too much weight shortens life expectancy.
The instantaneous risk of death was higher for all the obese dogs in the study and in all breeds, median life span was shorter in the overweight dogs than in the dogs of normal weight. On average:
Overweight small dogs had a reduced lifespan of 1.9 years for males and 1.8 years for females
Overweight medium-sized dogs had a reduced lifespan of 1.4 years
Overweight large dogs had a reduced lifespan of 0.6 years.
In addition to reduced lifespan, overweight dogs have reduced quality of life and are at greater risk of suffering from diabetes mellitus, musculoskeletal problems and some types of cancer. Additional weight also predisposes dogs to suffering from respiratory, cardiovascular and kidney problems and causes chronic low‐grade systemic inflammation contributing to insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.
The financial impact of owning a dog with an obesity‐related disease has been estimated to be approximately £770 per annum. Of course, reducing food intake will save money too.
UK vets report that approximately 40% of the dogs (and cats) that they see are overweight or obese. It is nearer 60% in the USA.
Many owners know how hard it can be to resist temptation and reduce food intake and/or eat more healthily. The pet food market is big business, being calculated to be worth £4.5 billion in 2019. Owners are being persuaded to buy more and more treats for their dogs as well as basic food, with the poorest quality food being the cheapest just as humans are bombarded by adverts for junk food and sugary drinks.
The good news is, not only will it extend your dog’s life and improve his quality of life to keep his weight to a normal level, you won’t feel tempted or hungry in the process.
Next time that you reach for the dogs treats consider why you are doing it. Is it guilt because you have left your dog alone or just a way of showing your dog how much you care for him? Instead of spending money on treats, why not get a dog sitter or show your dog that you care by playing a game or going for a walk. It could be worth nearly 2 years of your dog’s life.