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Our pets are our best friends. They are constantly by our side, offering all of their love, support and affection. So it’s no surprise that many of us treat our dogs and cats to extra food. It’s scary but true, estimates suggest that as many at 59 percent of dogs and 52 percent of cats worldwide are overweight.

And perhaps more telling is that only a quarter of cat and dog owners - 24 percent - describe their pet as overweight. So, our pets are getting bigger before our eyes, and we’re not even noticing!

You might be thinking, is it really a big deal if my pet's a bit overweight? And the simple answer...yes it is.

Looking at dogs specifically, recent studies show that excess body fat has a detrimental impact on how long a dog will live for. And this applies to both small and large dog breeds.  Small breeds in particular, can potentially lose up to 2 years or more off their life.

A dog is considered obese when it weights 15% above its ideal weight.

To put it in perspective, a male Labrador Retriever’s ideal weight is 29-36 kilos, or 64-79 pounds. Just an extra 5 kilos or 11 pounds tips your dog into obesity, which is dangerous territory. 

If a shorter life span isn’t bad enough, obesity also exacerbates the early onset of other diseases that can affect your dog’s healthy and the quality of their life. For example, diabetes, osteoarthritis, liver and heart disease all start to present as risks to your dog when they are overweight.

And it keeps manifesting, because once a dog is overweight, and in poor health, the next thing to go is their energy and excitement, as they become increasingly lethargic, inactive and uncomfortable. So, their overall happiness declines as well.

With all that bad stuff said, the good news is that you have the power to take charge of the situation. But it is going to require some tough love.

  • First of all, find out the ideal weight for your dog breed. A simple Google search can help you here.
  • Then, weigh your dog. If the scales at home aren’t suitable, take your dog for a drive to the local pet store, as many have scales that are free to use.
  • If your dog is above their ideal weight – and getting close to 15% over the ideal weight, it’s time to get tough.
  • That means a calorie restricted diet that provides all of the nourishment that your dog needs, without the excess sugars and fats. Your local vet can help you determine the right meal plan, or if you’re in touch with your dog’s breeder, give them a call to discuss – they can be a great source of information.
  • And of course, it’s time to get your sneakers on and get moving. If you dog likes to sit, sniff and casually potter around on a walk, they are in for a shock! You need to keep them moving with a consistent pace to get their cardiovascular system pumping!

Like humans, pets need to be at a healthy weight. And the great news is that you can make this happen just by changing a few of bad habits that might have crept in.

For more information about excess body weight, or to ask Cameron any questions you might have, email him at:

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