Obese Dogs: Steps to Approach the Weight

Obese Dogs: Steps to Approach the Weight

  • Kirsten Thornhill - 28.04.2021

Your four-legged cuddle bug is your best friend, your confidant, your go-to pal. It’s only natural that you want to treat them like pure royalty - treating them to all the delicious foods and treats that their canine life has to offer. But, like us humans, obesity is a major health concern when it comes to our furry friends and their well-being. Even though you may think your little, somewhat chunky, pup is adorable (trust me, we do too), managing and controlling their weight is a key part of being a responsible paw parent.

In today’s article, we’ll be discussing all there is to know about obese dogs, why it’s so important to take preventative measures to maintain their health, and how you can help your pup combat obesity before it develops further. 

Let’s get to it!

What is Obesity?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) obesity can be defined as “abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health.” We oftentimes hear the word thrown around in conversation, but the condition really is not a laughing matter. In all actuality, obesity can significantly affect your dog’s quality of life and overall well-being. Thus, preventing obesity is absolutely crucial to your pupper’s health. 



Fortunately enough, experts believe that obesity can be one of the most common preventable disease in canines. However, it’s been suggest that 25-30% of all doggos are classified as being obese. Aka, that’s over ¼ of the entire dog population! It really is a significant amount if you really think about it. Moreso, 40-45% of doggos between 5-11 years of age are considered to be overweight. So I’m sure you’re wondering, “what’s the difference between obesity and being overweight?

Overweight vs. Obese Canines

Veterinarians may classify a dog in an obese or overweight category based on their ideal body weight. If your dog weighs 10-25% above their ideal weight, they may be considered overweight. If your dog weighs 25% over their ideal weight, they may be considered obese. Obesity in dogs does not just happen over night. It’s super imprtant as a paw parent that you monitor your dog’s weight and make the appropriate adjustments to their diet and exercise routine when necessary. Ignoring the issue or thinking they’re “cute chubby” won’t help their health in the long run. 

What are the Symptoms of Canine Obesity?

While many paw parents may think of obesity as being a “fat” dog, there are specific symptoms to be cognizant of. If you are able to recognize these symptoms early on, dog parents can work to effectively reverse their doggo’s weight gain. 



Here are some signs of canine obesity:

  • Decrease in mobility
  • Lack of grooming
  • Respiratory issues
  • Lethargy 
  • Depression
  • Increased body fat
  • Inability to feel ribcage
  • Excessive weight gain
  • Swollen abdomen

How Does a Dog Become Obese or Overweight?

Here at Petly CBD, we passionately believe that prevention is the best medicine. With this being said, paw parents must have a foundational understanding of what cause obesity to develop. It may come as a surprise to you at what may be the cause, it’s definitely not just eating too much. 

1. Age

Obesity and age often go side-by-side. The older dogs get, the less active they typically become. The less active they are in their daily routine, the higher the risk of obesity. We wish we had the ability to keep our doggos young forever. However, aging takes its course whether or not we want it to. With this being said, it’s important for paw parents to keep your dog active, especially as they age. With obesity creeping into the picture, there are also secondary health issue risks that quickly follow. Vets can typically diagnose obesity in dogs between 5-11 years of age. 

2. Physiological Concerns

Many of these causes may not be completely avoidable,but it is important that paw parents are aware of whether or not their dog is at an increased risk of becoming obese. Take the precautions seriously when it comes to managing your pup’s weight and daily activity. 

3. Overfeeding

The most common cause of obesity may just be overfeeding. And yes, this means table scraps, treats, frequency of daily meals, high-fat foods, and lack of nutritional content in foods. When doggos are fed more calories than they are able to burn off, weight problems are likely to occur. 



4. Unaware Dog Owner

Obesity can occur when the paw parent is unaware of the healthy weight their dog should be at. Again, obesity doesn’t just come out of nowhere. It is entirely possible for the paw parent to recognize their four-legged friend’s gain in weight. It can happen more often than you think, especially if the paw parent doesn’t know their dog’s ideal weight. 

5. Medication

Certain medications are known to cause weight gain in canines. The most common medications associated with potential weight gain are Glucocorticoids and Phenobarbital. Glucocorticoids can cause abnormalities in the way that fat is stored, leading to potential weight gain. Phenobarbital is an anticonvulsant that is used to help with seizures. However, it can cause a decrease in fullness post meals, leading to overeating. 

6. Diseases

Several diseases may lead to the develop of obesity in canines. The most common disease may include:

  • Insulinoma
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Hyperadrenocorticism

It’s important to be aware of any preexisting conditions that your dog may have, as it may affect them in numerous way that can lead to them developing obesity. Doggos with certain diseases should be fed specific diets, promoting weight management and or weight loss. 

7. Lack of Physical Activity

A lack of exercise can lead to the development of obesity in dogs. If your pup isn’t getting enough daily movement, this can lead to a whole laundry list of potential issues, including behavioral issues and joint concerns. 



8. Surgery

Surgeries may lead to the development of obesity, unfortunately. For example, neutering and spaying your pet may cause decreases in sex hormones, thus, a decrease in energy expenditure. Surgery can also lead to increases in hunger. Again, a lack of exercise and overfeeding/overeating are a nasty recipe for an obesity disaster.

Surgeries can cause a physical lack of mobility (for various periods of time), depending on the injury and recovery window. In these instances, paw parents should talk with their vet regarding whether decreases in meal portions may be effective in weight management for the time being. 

How to Prevent Obesity in Dogs

Experts considering obesity a preventable common disease in dogs should excite you as a paw parent! This speaks major volumes to taking back control of your dog’s health and well-being one step at time. It’s important that dog owners take the proper steps to prevent obesity and the development of secondary health conditions that often follow. 

Diet is Key

Diet really is everything friends! We simply cannot stress this enough! Your doggo’s diet does truly affect every aspect of their precious life with you. It’s imperative that paw parents feed their pups the best food sources as possible. Many vets and experts recommend a raw food diet, full in vitamins and minerals that your dog needs to live their best life. 

After ensuring that your dog’s food source is up to standards, paw parents should make sure they are not overfeeding their dog (this includes table scraps). If your dog is being fed a nutritious and raw diet, you’d be surprised how little goes a long way. We highly recommend talking with your holistic veterinarian regarding exactly just how much food your dog needs, rather than relying on general food labels. 



Study after study, evidence has shown that table scraps and extra treats are a direct cause of obesity in dogs. We know you want to share with fido time and time again, but it can have a negative impact on their health. We encourage you to think twive before giving your four-legged pooch your left over carrots. 


Get movin’! One of the most crucial things you can do is to make sure your dog gets plenty of physical activity and mental stimulation. It’s crazy just how much of a difference an extra 30 minutes of time at the dog park can make for your dog’s happiness and overall health. 

Different breeds may require different levels of exercise. For isntance, a chihuahua will not need the same amount of exercise as a golden doodle. We recommend consulting with your vet in regards to their professional opinion as far as the amount of physical activity your dog may need.

In addition, as we briefly mentioned above, older dogs are at a higher risk of developing obesity due to the lack of exercise and movement. It’s critical that dogs of all ages continue to move and receive the necessary amount of exercise and mental stimulation they need to maintain a healthy weight and happy life. 



Obesity in Dogs: Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, we know you want only the absolute best for your four-legged BFF. As a responsible pet parent, it’s necessary to manage your dog’s weight and exercise. Obesity may not seem “that bad”, but it could be life or death one day as fido ages. A treat or table scrap here or there may be okay, but keep in mind “moderation is key”. 

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