Canine Companion: Obesity May Damage Dogs’ Organs

Hey, guys. This week we’re going to dive right in and talk about canine obesity. Before we do, I want to remind you that I am a Canine Behaviorist/Psychologist and Scientific Researcher, not a Veterinarian. Every medical decision should be discussed with your veterinarian prior to implementation.

Most dog lovers, when they see an obese dog, see him or her as the cuddliest teddy bear in the universe. What’s not realized is how the excess weight is affecting their bodies.

Dogs who are couch potatoes, eat too much food, and/or naturally predisposed (genetically) to weight gain are among those who are at risk for becoming obese.

Not only does obesity contribute to a dog’s ability and willingness to exercise; it damages their organs.

Obesity is common in dogs of all ages, but it’s most commonly seen in dogs between 5-10 years old. And, nearly 60 percent of the canine population has been diagnosed with obesity.

Of course, we can’t take about all the risk factors that go along with being obese. There’s just not enough room. There is one condition I feel is important to talk about this week as it pertains to obesity, though. We’ll get to that in a minute.


Before you automatically assume your dog is overweight or underweight, you must observe carefully. If your dog is underweight, her ribs, backbone, and/or pelvic muscles will be showing. You will see little to no fat.

If your dog is overweight, this is more difficult to determine. Obviously, we can tell you if she’s overweight but there are different stages of excess weight. One stage could just be beginning to cause health problems whereas the other stages may have already caused damage. If you’re not able to feel your dog’s ribs, there is too much fat covering to feel them. When you view your dog from the side, you should see a tucked in abdomen in most cases as well.

If your dog is ‘just right,’ you’re able to feel her ribs, but there should be a little bit of ‘meat’ there. You’ll be able to see your dog’s waist while standing above her. And, her abdomen will be tucked in to some extent in most cases.

1 Of Every 2 Dogs is

Diagnosed with Cancer

Current research is showing there could be a link between canine obesity and canine cancer (I’m happy to send you the link). If you do your own digging, you’ll find some research but make sure it’s from a credible source. Wikipedia, for example, is not credible.

The study I have shared with my boarding clients, my CEO’s, and colleagues is a study conducted by the American Veterinary Medical Association. The entire goal of this research was to determine if obesity could be one of the main causes of cancer.

Their findings? Their findings indicated obesity could potentially be linked to many different types of cancer with the most prevalent being urinary cancer and mammary cancer.

What Else?

Cancer isn’t the only condition you need to worry about if your dog is overweight or obese. Cancer is obviously one of the most serious side effects, but there are other factors that weigh in to your dog’s health too.

Obese dogs are also at a higher risk for developing diabetes, heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), urinary bladder stones, osteoarthritis, and/or complications with anesthetic.

How Do I Feed My Dog?

By now you’re probably thinking, “how do I know how much to feed her? I don’t want to lose her but I don’t want her to be hungry either.”

This is a trick question to answer because there’s no ‘one size fits all’ answer.

If you’re one of those readers who looks at the recommended serving size on the dog food bag (don’t worry- there are many), be sure to keep in mind that those are simply guidelines. That doesn’t mean your dog should eat that much.

If your dog is athletic, he will eat more than other dogs his size. If your dog would rather sit on the couch with you and lounge, there’s not any need for extra food.

I’m going to post a ‘feeding chart’ based on your dog’s size on my business Facebook account https://www.facebook.com/specialistamberdrake. Keep in mind these are only guidelines, too. But, you might realize your dog is losing the weight he needed to get rid of simply by feeding the correct amount. Dogs don’t usually need to go on a ‘diet.’ Instead, they need their amount of food adjusted (and fewer high-calorie treats).

Back to Normal

Once your dog is back to being healthy, it’s your responsibility to ensure she remains that way. Portion control and exercise are the most important factors in ensuring your dog lives a long, healthy life.

Please feel free to e-mail me at AmberLDrake@dogbehaviorblog.org or the contact page at www.AmberLDrake.org.

That’s all I have for you today.

Talk to you again soon.


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