Obesity affects health, lifespan of dogs

Published 11:59 pm Tuesday, July 2, 2019


K-9 Corner

In the latest DogWatch newsletter, published by Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine, there is a short article about a study of over 57,000 dogs over 20 years regarding how obesity and lean body mass affects the lifespan of dogs. This article reports on the study published in January 2019 Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine. The research was conducted at the University of Liverpool in Great Britain.

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The study dogs were 5.5 to 9.5 years of age at the start. The dogs were classified on their weight in middle age. The end result of this study is that for every breed, dogs of normal body weight had longer or were predicted to have longer lives than overweight dogs.

To back this information up, I went to the internet and found a study conducted by Nestle Purina’s Life Span Study, by dvm360.com staff, dated July 1, 2002 (bit.ly/2Yu4m5x).

This study extends from 1987 to 2001 and they used 48 Labrador Retrievers as their study animals. They were carefully paired into two groups: A lean-fed group and a control group. The control group was allowed to eat as much as they desired in fifteen minute periods, while the lean-fed dogs received 75 percent of the amount of food offered to the control group. The food was nutritionally complete and balanced and the pups were weighed weekly.

As the dogs grew, their weight was monitored periodically, but as they became adults, the weekly weighing was resumed. They also recorded the body fat, lean body mass, and bone mass, as well as blood tests for glucose, insulin, serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels annually.

By age 10, only three lean-fed dogs had died, according to the study, compared with seven control dogs. At the end of the 12th year, 11 lean-fed dogs were alive with only one control dog surviving. 25% of lean-fed dogs lived to 13.5 years, but none of the control dogs survived to that age.

This study confirmed the study made in Great Britain in that the median lifespan was increased 1.8 years or 15 percent.

I also found an article on obesity in pets. It is titled “How obesity may shorten your pet’s life” by Lorie Huston DVM (bit.ly/2Ys3Rc7).

Huston states that according to several studies, over 50 percent of American pets are overweight or obese. Obesity can shorten the pet’s life. Excess weight can predispose a number of health issues such as diabetes, joint disease, heart problems, liver disease, skin disease, respiratory problems and heat stroke. Even some forms of cancer have been linked to obesity, according to Huston.

It is now recognized that fat is an endocrine organ secreting substances actually harmful to your pet. These substances may play a part in the development of disease but also in pain response.

If your pet is overweight, it is strongly recommended that you work with your veterinarian as some animals develop problems with internal organs if they are suddenly put on a special reducing diet.