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  • Writer's pictureUnoDogs Insights

Fat dogs of the US: Dog obesity an epidemic

Dog obesity in the U.S.

Obesity in dogs has grown as a pandemic in recent years. The US had 64 million pet dogs in 2019 and as per pet obesity prevention, 64% of these dogs are overweight or obese. That means, almost ⅔ of them have a BCS score of 6 to 9 on a scale of 9. It is estimated, that, 42% fall in the overweight category and 22% fall in the obese category.

The above stats are heart breaking but UnoDogs look at it as an opportunity to correct our misdeeds. We as the parents and caregivers of our furry babies need to take some extra steps to ensure good health and wellbeing for them.

Top reasons for the dog obesity are:

  1. Lack of awareness: Pet parents do not recognize that their dogs are overweight or fat. People generally do not know it or fail to understand the dire consequences of this epidemic. As a result, action steps for weight management are delayed.

  2. Lack of compliance: Pet parents fail to comply with weight management programs and strict portion management. People tend to lose interest after a few days or an initial week of effort. They often fail to maintain a schedule for daily exercise for their dogs.

  3. Genetic components, susceptibilities within certain breeds, single-gene mutations, and neuroendocrine pathways in terms of responses to food.

  4. Overfeeding, free feeding, and food stealing. A study done on calorie control for weight management of dogs found that it is highly probable that an overweight dog is either fed once or 3 or more times a day.

  5. Feeding of high-calorie foods/treats and table scraps.

  6. Feeding for emotional reasons—showing love for the pet through extra feeding or by using food treats as frequent rewards.

  7. Lack of adequate exercise in proportion to calories consumed.

How fat is your dog?

Use our scientifically developed method of calculating the right BCS for your dog at home.

Link for our BCS calculator.

Major breeds prone to obesity

Some of the breeds are more prone to obesity than other breeds.

Beagle, Scottish Terrier, Bulldog, Boxer, Dachshund, Golden Retriever, Rottweiler, English Mastiff, Pug, Newfoundland, Basset Hound, Labrador, Cocker Spaniel, Chihuahua

Bad effects of obesity in dogs:

Just as in humans, excessive fat in dogs increases the risk of often-preventable health conditions. This leads to shortening life expectancy and also a loss of quality of life.

Some of the most common obesity-related health conditions found in dogs are:

  1. Arthritis

  2. Bladder/ Urinary tract disease

  3. Liver disease

  4. Low thyroid hormone production

  5. Torn knee ligaments

  6. Type 2 Diabetes

  7. Diseased disc in the spine

  8. Chronic kidney disease

  9. Heart failure

  10. High blood pressure

The bottom line is, obese dogs tend to live a shorter life with more medical problems.

The total cost of ownership (TCO) of an obese dog:

TCO of an overweight or obese dog is an estimate of the total lifespan expense that may arise due to the dog’s excess body fat.

Below are a few of the major estimates and hypotheses we use to calculate this TCO.

  1. An obese dog suffer from 1 of the above-mentioned health condition for an average of 4 years in its life

    1. An average of $500 per year expense to manage a chronic obesity-related disease.

  2. On average, overweight or obese dog is fed 25% more food/ treats for 6 years of their life.

    1. Average America spends $65 per month per dog on dog food and treats. 25% of it is $16.25 per month per dog

So, if we just include medical and food expenses, the total lifetime additional expense on an obese dog comes out to be $3,170.

A fat dog loses precious years of her life and spends the last years in pain and agony. Also, you spend more dollars on this low-quality life.

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