One of the most concerning health trends in the United States (USA) is the number of overweight dogs, a growing epidemic that has been associated with a dramatic increase in a wide range of health problems. According to a 2018 report, 56% of dogs in the US are overweight.
Being overweight considerably increases the risk of osteoarthritis
These extra pounds of weight can put significant stress and strain on the joints, leading to the development of arthritis. In fact, according to one of the largest veterinary hospital networks in the country, the number of overweight dogs has increased 66% in the last 10 years; US Today, 52% of dogs ave been found diagnosed with osteoarthritis (OA) are overweight or obese. Nationally, 6.1% of all dogs and more than 20% of dogs 10 years and older suffer from OA.
While much progress has been made in developing pain relievers to help OA patients, it appears that much less emphasis has been placed on addressing the nutritional aspect that is often associated with this painful condition. Specifically, consuming excess calories plays an integral role in weight gain. In dogs, it has been shown that being overweight is clearly related to an increased risk of developing OA.
Collaboration between veterinarians and owners is essential
As such, it is more important than ever for veterinarians to work closely with pet owners to identify overweight or obese patients and develop effective weight reduction and management programs that help ensure that there is a proper balance between caloric intake and regular exercise. Given a large amount of highly palatable commercial dog foods and snacks, along with table scraps, it is very easy for dogs to gain weight steadily and stealthily.
Canine OA: Why counting calories isn’t just for humans. Albert Ahn, DVM. Veterinary Practice News.