If your dog has arthritis or is at risk of developing arthritis then THE MOST important thing you can do for them is to assist them to lose weight if they are overweight or, if they are already lean, to ensure that they stay that way. Weight loss reduces pressure on the joints and reduces overall inflammation in the body.
The estimated number of overweight and obese dogs is between 30-60%!
The six biggest risk factors for dog obesity are below:
Genetics and breed. Some dogs are just genetically more likely to be overweight or obese, so if you have one of these breeds you should be even more aware of their weight and managing it well.
The top breeds include:
- Golden Retrievers
- Bulldogs (both French and English)
- Mixed breeds
Are they spayed or neutered? Spayed and neutered dogs are twice as likely to be overweight than intact dogs. When dogs are spayed or neutered, their metabolism decreases but their appetite increases.
Age. Older dogs lose lean muscle and increase fat deposits so, like people, they are more likely to become overweight.
Activity level. Dogs that aren’t very active or dogs that become less active over time are more likely to gain weight. Daily walking is not only good for physical health, but also for mental health (for both you and your pup)
High-calorie treats and high-fat food. Fat has more calories per gram, compared to protein and carbohydrates. Feeding too many treats leads to excessive calorie intake, especially human foods. Treats are absolutely allowed, but you need to be mindful of the additional calorie intake it adds to the day, and adjust the feeding amount to account for this.
Free feeding. Filling your dog’s food bowl and letting them eat whenever they like, or using automatic feeders, makes it easy for extra weight to creep on. Feed your dog a measured amount of food at meal times and don’t let them nibble all day.
Being aware of these factors can help you to make better decisions for your pet and more information on how to manage some of these factors will be discussed in future Blogs so stay tuned!
Thank you to CARE (https://caninearthritis.org) for providing some of this great information.