In dogs, being overweight predisposes them to certain types of tumors, called lipomas or liposarcomas. These can be invasive, and most require surgery to remove. Heart Disease is also a common problem brought on by extra pounds. The heart has to work harder and fight the increased pressure in the vessels, which leads to valvular problems and the heart muscle being overworked and enlarging. Pulmonary distress is a problem as well. Too much fat compresses the chest and takes up space that the lungs should be using. The trachea can also be under pressure, and they may cough and be short of breath becasue of this. Dogs can suffer from Diabetes as well as cats due to being overweight. The fat cells are less sensitive to the effects of insulin, and more and more insulin in required to lower blood glucose, until their body cannot do the job alone. These dogs are also difficult to treat, requiring insulin injections and often other therapies as well.
So when we bring up the subject of weight in the exam room, know that we are doing our job by looking out for your pet's health. We care about their quality of life and longevity, and know that extra weight will shorten the time you will spend together. Teaming up, we can work out a plan for weight loss and diet change to restore your pet's ideal weight and avoid some of these major medical issues.
Stay tuned for the next post where we will discuss body condition scoring, and you can determine where your pet ranks!