by Sue Averill
Overweight dogs that have conditions such as arthritis, hip dysplasia and over-angulated joints, (pasterns, hocks and stifles) suffer greater pain, which causes a greatly reduced quality of life. Obesity in dogs can cause stroke, diabetes, shortness of breath and heart attacks.
An overweight dog may have certain conditions that would be exacerbated by exercise. Severely dysplastic dogs may need to diet to get the weight off before they can begin gentle exercise to gain muscle support on their hip joints. Obese dogs get pressure sores from supporting too much weight on their elbows and hocks when they are laying down (which is most of the time). Young overweight dogs are prone to ligament and tendon injury when playing too hard.
Overweight dogs, like people, benefit from consistent sustained aerobic activity. Sporadic hard exercise like chasing sticks or balls should be reserved for fit dogs. Fat dogs benefit most from power walking. Start slowly with a good strong ten-minute walk on flat terrain. Add a minute a day until you’re up to half an hour. Once you get to that level begin adding different terrain, little hills or long gentle grades.
We all regret that our pets never live quite long enough. If we really love our dogs we must, as their custodians, do everything we can to make sure they are healthy and comfortable during the time that they have.