When we take our greyhounds to meet and greet events, we often get remarks about how skinny our dogs are!! We have to explain why the greyhound is slim naturally. However, we do notice at times that some greyhounds are heavier than they should be and we tell our adopters that it’s not healthy for them to put on too much weight. Now that winter is here and we don’t have the chance to get outside for exercise as much, we need to be more mindful of what and how much our hounds are eating. The following article is reprinted from the Morris Animal Foundation’s Animal News (Volume 12, Issue 4, November 2012). We hope that it makes us think about how our actions impact our hounds’ health.
Packing on the Pounds Increases Risks for Portly Pets
By Elizabeth Devitt, DVM
When Shadow was rescued, only the plume of his wagging tail moved with ease. At 136 pounds, the outgoing Golden Retriever had to pause frequently to catch his breath before he lumbered into his new foster home. He had been surrendered to a shelter, in part because he could no longer fit through his doggy door. Shadow’s weight cost him his home and nearly his life. He isn’t alone.
Obesity in pets parallels the problem of widening waistlines in people. In an alarming trend, body weight has increased by 37 percent in dogs and 90 percent in cats in the past five years, according to the BanfieldState of Pet Health 2012 Report.
Pets rely on their people to fulfill their nutrition needs, but we’re failing our pets in the food department by overfeeding them food and treats. What’s worse is that we don’t even realize we are doing it. The term “fat gap,” coined by Dr. Ernie Ward, founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, describes the discrepancy between a pet owner’s perception of his or her pet’s weight and reality. This gap is more than a cosmetic problem—it’s causing major medical issues for animals. Pudgy pets don’t live as long as their slim friends.
The results of Nestlé Purina’s Life Span Study, released in 2002, proved that living a lean life can add two years to a dog’s life span. In contrast, extra pounds can lead to many health issues, including glucose intolerance, diabetes, increased wear and tear on the musculoskeletal system, increased stress on the heart and lungs, high blood pressure, skin conditions, and exercise and heat intolerance. Excess body fat is also a source of inflammation, meaning it can contribute to the development of some cancers and chronic degenerative diseases, such as arthritis. The general recipe for maintaining a healthy weight is simple: work with your pet’s veterinarians to determine the right amount of calories for your pet’s age, breed and lifestyle. Scientific studies, like those Morris Animal Foundation is funding, are also discovering that factors beyond diet and exercise also play a role in pet obesity.
Shadow was lucky. He embarked on a weight loss program that gradually honed his physique so that he was a mere shadow of his former self. He also found a forever home.
15 obesity-related problems
• Reduced life span
• Heart disease
• Joint problems, including arthritis
• Knee problems (ruptured ligaments)
• Labored or difficulty breathing
• Greater risk for heatstroke
• Immune system problems
• Pancreatic problems
• Increased risk of mammary cancer (dogs)
• Increased skin problems (especially for cats
that can no longer groom themselves)
• Increased reproductive problems
• Digestive disorders (particularly constipation in
less active pets)
• Increased surgical and anesthetic risks
Sources: American Animal Hospital Association and www.peteducation.com