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Is your obese dog at higher risk for joint problems?

Published: May 2021 | Updated: May 2023

Obesity is described as a buildup of excess body fat. Since excess body weight and fat tend to go hand in hand, most overweight dogs will also have excess body fat.

When determining whether a dog is overweight or lean, body weight is much easier to determine than body fat. Dogs are considered overweight when they weigh 10-20% more than their average body weight.

Obesity is the most common preventable condition in dogs in North America. Obesity affects approximately 25-30% of the dog population, with 40-45% of dogs aged 5-11 years old weighing more than average.

How to Tell if Your Dog is Obese

Recognize and accept that there is a concern when it comes to coping with an overweight or obese dog. Unfortunately, we are constantly bombarded with photographs in the media of dogs that are consistently overweight, making it difficult to grasp what is healthy versus what isn’t.

An evaluation can be done with the help of your veterinarian and/or a veterinary nutritionist to determine if your dog is classified as obese and which steps to take to get on track to a healthier lifestyle.

Rib coverage is not only an effective measurement for determining whether or not your dog is overweight, but it is also simple to do at home. This is how your dog's ribs feel just below the shoulder blades if you keep your hand palm down and feel your knuckles with the flats of the opposite hand. It's also a good way to monitor your weight loss between official weigh-ins.

Your veterinary health care team will give you an approximate ideal body weight to use as a goal, but it's also critical that they conduct daily body condition tests to ensure that you're making progress toward a healthy weight and condition. Most veterinary practices use a dog body condition scoring system that ranges from 1 to 9 with 5 being classified as ideal.

The Consequences of Obesity in Dogs

Obesity and overweightness raise the likelihood of joint injury and, as a result, osteoarthritis (OA), which causes chronic pain. Osteoarthritis is present in at least 20% of all dogs, regardless of their age. 

The risk of OA increases with age and bone structure size, so the older and larger the dog becomes, the more likely it is to develop inflammation and pain. Unfortunately, dogs that are overweight or obese traumatize their joints for a long period of time before clinical signs of harm appear. Changes from OA take years to show up on an X-ray due to joint injury.

Since arthritis is such a common ailment, it's important to include it in this topic. Of course, pet insurance can help protect your bank account, but as a conscientious pet parent, you can also save your dog from pain, aching, and save money by taking preventative measures. 

There are dog joint supplement options available to help with OA; Canine Cush is the highest-quality option. It differs from many other products in that it is free of additives and other synthetic ingredients.

What is Canine Cush?

Canine Cush is a veterinarian-formulated, 100% natural joint supplement for dogs that contains phytocannabinoids, eggshell membrane, boswellia and curcumin. If you do some research (or continue reading our blog), you'll probably find one of these four ingredients in most natural dog joint pain supplements. But, they are often found apart from one another, rather than in one all-natural supplement.

Other Obese Dog Health Problems

"This is the exact cause of cancer." No one can make this statement with certainty. Obesity may be one of the many factors leading to cancer in our dogs, but researchers aren't exactly why. But, there is a solid hypothesis as to why obese dogs are more vulnerable to cancer.

Fat cells contain a substance called adiponectin. Adinopectin protects against cancer by preventing cancer cells from growing.

Still, that doesn't make sense; you'd think that more fat would mean more adiponectin, and therefore a lower cancer risk. That, however, is not the case.

Adiponectin is secreted less when there is so much fat in the body. More adiponectin is created when fat is used to fuel the body. As a result, leaner dogs are less likely to get cancer.

Improving Weight and Health with Probiotics for Dogs

Probiotics provide good bacteria and yeast for your dog's well-being. Hundreds of billions of them live in our dogs' and other animals' GI tracts to aid in the prevention of disease, the strengthening of the immune system, and the absorption of nutrients. Your dog's digestive health is often referred to as the microbiome, and a healthy microbiome is needed for a healthy dog.

Although probiotics are primarily used to improve dog gut health, research has revealed a clear link between the gut microbiome and weight management.

Probiotics are so effective at regulating weight that scientists are researching the gut microbiome to figure out which bacteria are responsible for preventing obesity and maintaining a healthy body weight.

The hormone oxytocin (also known as the happiness hormone) has been linked to obesity prevention and may be up-regulated by beneficial bacteria.

The Bottom Line

Obesity and arthritis in dogs are not difficult to prevent, but they do require effort and often professional guidance. If you believe your dog isn't at a healthy weight, you should make an appointment with your veterinarian to determine the best method to take to reduce weight successfully. 

If weight is lost too quickly, this could lead to nutritional deficiencies. When excess weight is lost properly, your dog is more likely to have a healthier body, increased energy levels, and less risk for adverse health effects.

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