If you’re looking to keep your dog living a longer life, you’ll want to watch his weight, according to new research from the University of Liverpool and Mars Petcare’s WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition.
Oh, those fluffy, chubby pups are the cutest, we know. But, according to new research, those extra pounds may be keeping your dogs from living their best, longest lives.
Research from the University of Liverpool and Mars Petcare’s WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition found that the lifespan of dogs that were overweight could be up to two-and-a-half years shorter than a dog who lived at an ideal weight. The study spanned two decades and looked at over 50,000 of the 12 most popular dog breeds. The breeds studied were as follows: Dachshund, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, American Cocker Spaniel, Beagle, Boxer, Chihuahua, Pit Bull Terrier, Pomeranian, Shih Tzu, and Yorkshire Terrier. The researchers compared lifespans for dogs in each breed who were overweight with the same breed in optimal body weight and proportion.
Though being overweight seemed to have the same impact on lifespan in all the studied breeds but in varying degrees, overweight male German Shepherds fared better at five months less a lifespan while overweight male Yorkshire Terriers were found to live up to two-and-a-half years less than their ideally weighted counterparts.
While nearly half the households in the United States and a quarter of the households in the United Kingdom are homes to dogs, pet owners still don’t seem as aware of the effect that being overweight can have on their furry family members. Pet obesity continues to rise with the estimation that one in three dogs and cats in the United States is overweight and that carries serious health implications, particularly to dogs.
Alex German is a Professor of Small Animal Medicine at the University of Liverpool and a study co-author. He said that often, pet parents don’t even really know their dog is overweight, and certainly may not realize fully the impact those extra pounds can have. Pet owners need to know that being overweight doesn’t just impact quality of life with relationship to their joints and breathing, but their lifespan as well.
German says that many pet owners see giving treats and table scraps as a way to love their pets, but if we really want to keep them around for as long as they can be, we need to be careful about keeping them lean and healthy. That doesn’t just mean watching treats, though–German says that they estimate only one in five pet parents measure the food they are giving their pet, with the other four guestimating different amounts at each serving.
So, if you really love your furball and want to do what’s best for them, make sure you know what your pet’s ideal body weight is and work diligently to keep them there. Be sure they get enough exercise and even though it’s tempting to give table scraps, it’s best just to avoid them altogether. When choosing treats, pay attention to calories, and pay attention to feed guides for the food you choose to give.
A little effort can go a long way for their longevity!
Lori Ennis is a wife, mama and friend to all animals. A self-confessed ‘hot mess,’ she lives in Florida where her Marine husband is stationed, along with her goofy Golden Retriever, Dixie, and a plethora of saltwater fish. Lori and her husband have fostered Golden Retrievers for years, and know no home is complete without an animal buddy!