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Discussion Starter #1
any facts/information on this topic that anybody would like to share? I'm trying to spread information on this widely seen problem in dogs.

Personally I think its very damaging and theres no excuse, some people have told me that they just don't have time to walk their dog, which doesn't make sense? Just decrese their food intake? Not sure what the issue is, thinking its cute? not knowing better?...
 

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It's a complex issue. I think there's a lot of reasons dogs wind up too fat, and while some of them can be addressed by education, it's a really delicate topic for a lot of human reasons and can be really difficult to communicate with people in a way that's effective, kind, and doesn't make the owners defensive or resistant. I, personally, have decided to keep my mouth shut unless it's either a dog owned by someone I know very well and have a good relationship with, or someone actively asks for advice/opinions.

Reasons dogs might be obese:

- Ignorance

This can be anything from not knowing a 'cup' on the feeding recommendations refers to a specific unit of measurement, not any random cup-like object, to not realizing that some dogs will not self-regulate if free fed, to not knowing what a healthy weight looks like on their dog, to not realizing that feeding guides aren't hard and fast rules and their dog might need less than the recommended amount. I do think this can be helped by education, though sometimes generic advice can cause more confusion. I've seen lots of people who think their dog is a healthy weight because "they have a tuck", when the dog has a very deep-chested, thin-waisted build and would have to look like a watermelon before it lost the tuck. Conversely, you see people who have barrel-chested breeds with very little tuck, like labs, who think their dogs are fine because it's hard to evaluate how much fat they're carrying by looks alone, and they don't know how to evaluate it by touch. Or because they believe myths like labs needing a fat layer because they're bred to retrieve in cold water.

- Medical issues

Thyroid problems, pathological appetite issues, medications that cause metabolism/appetite changes... sometimes there's a limit to what people can do in these situations, and sometimes the dog is being treated and just hasn't recovered yet, and sometimes the owner doesn't realize unusual weight changes can be caused by treatable medical conditions. This is definitely one situation that makes me very reluctant to comment on strangers' dogs' weight - online or otherwise - because owners of these dogs hear about it all the time and most are literally doing everything they can to manage it. There's also the rare case of dogs with chronic conditions that cause weight loss when they flair up, and sometimes these dogs are kept a little heavier in an attempt to keep them from getting dangerously skinny.

- Recent rehome

The dog came from a home or shelter/rescue situation where their weight got out of hand, and the new owner is working on it but healthy, safe weight loss takes time. Similar to medical issues, it can be really frustrating to these owners to hear that their dog is fat all the time when they really are on the road to getting healthier.

- Human error

When you see the same dog every day, sometimes you just don't notice the weight creeping up. Maybe something has happened like the owner's started a new job so the dog doesn't get as much exercise, or the weather's turned nasty for a bit, or a pandemic happens, but suddenly they look at their dog one day and go "oh, crud, they're fat". This is especially true with small dogs, where a pound or two can make a big difference, but when there's a major thing going on at home even larger dogs can plump up before anyone realizes what's going on. True, usually you don't see dogs reach obese in these scenarios, but we are only human and sometimes these things get away from us.

- Human illness

These cases are sometimes very dramatic (look up Obie the Dachshund if you're not already familiar), but also very tragic. Dementia and other illnesses can cause owners to literally not remember that they've already fed their dogs, and to be unable to process that the animal has changed weight considerably. This can even be a problem in a household where there are other adults acting as caretakers, as it can be very difficult to prevent the ill person from overfeeding or feeding inappropriate foods to the pets in some situations. In less extreme cases, you also have people who are contending with chronic or long-term diseases or difficult treatments (depression, cancer, chronic pain conditions, etc.) and sometimes they're doing the best they can but the dog's weight gets away from them, and they have so many other things on their plate that it just doesn't get prioritized the way it would under ideal circumstances.

- The 'look'

I honestly think it's pretty darn rare to have people deliberately 'fatten up' their animals, but there is a cultural thing right now with fat animals being cute. However, I more often see this with people who have 'tough' breeds and want to boast about how bulky their 200lb Rottweiler is - all muscle, of course! - when really they've just made their dog obese. Either way, this is a pretty hard subset of people to influence, because the clout is more important to them than the animal. Thankfully it's also a pretty darn small percentage of dog owners.

And then you have the issue of communication. Of course dogs don't have to deal with social shaming, body image problems, eating disorders, etc., but we can't ignore that the humans taking care of them do. And there are the people who conflate food with love, and may find it extremely emotionally difficult to reduce treats or food. Some feel that the dog won't love them anymore, which can be hard on them when the dog is literally their only companion or has some other significant emotional significance in their life. While there are people who might respond to a very direct, hard-ass "your dog is fat and if you don't fix it you'll kill them" approach, many more people are going to feel attacked and alienated. They do love their animals, after all. Kindness and understanding for where they're coming from will go a lot farther in making the message actually stick.
 

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Agree with the above and I have to bite my tongue daily because I belong to a FB beagle club where fat shaming is not allowed.. OMG some of those dogs are so fat at such a young age they cannot even jump up into the car,,or onto a couch.
I do understand the keeping a dog slightly heavy, we had a rescue who had the inclination to forage and would eat bugs and poo and any other rubbish , it was my vet who said it was better that he was slightly heavier on good food rather than have him eat lord knows what that he found on the floor.

Personally I understand there can be medical issues I suffer with an autoimmune disorder which has caused me to gain weight and even with a nutritionalist in charge I didnt loose weight. However in both humans and dogs these things are rare, the vast majority of obesity is down to too much energy going in and not enough going out.

I think part of the problem comes down to this idea that a dog is everyones right, and people who work full time and leave the dog at home 6-8 hours a day still think its ok because the dog can go into the garden , they walk the dog to the park once a day and they give it a walk at the weekend right?

Sadly just like humans have become fatter and fatter over the last century we are seeing the same trend in dogs.

Plus the advertising,, which basically tells us if we want our pet to love us we need to reward wiith some treat/chew stick rubbish.

Im all for positive training methods but my dogs daily meal allowence include the treats they get and their weight is noted regularly and diet adjusted accordingly.
 

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However, I more often see this with people who have 'tough' breeds and want to boast about how bulky their 200lb Rottweiler is - all muscle, of course! - when really they've just made their dog obese. Either way, this is a pretty hard subset of people to influence, because the clout is more important to them than the animal. Thankfully it's also a pretty darn small percentage of dog owners.
As someone who has Rotties, I've heard countless times from complete strangers who walk up to me and ask if my adult female is a puppy and then tell me how they have a friend with a 200-pound Rottweiler in a tone that makes it clear they think the friend's dog is superior. I always answer, "Oh, the poor dog. That's so sad. Is it terribly overweight or some kind of mix?"
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I do agree with most things said.

Of course theres resons for a dog to be overweight, but alot of these reasons are not as common as somebody just not caring to learn about their dogs care throughly. I see more morbildy obese dogs than I see heathy dogs nowpadays. It really makes me stop and be like.. yikes
 

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I see more morbildy obese dogs than I see heathy dogs nowpadays. It really makes me stop and be like.. yikes
True, its extremely sad especially when people are allowing their dog to become obese because of reasons like "its cute" or "they only live for so long so we might as well allow them to eat whatever they want".
 

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We hear it all the time. "My dog is always hungry." I've had hounds and labs and they truly are always hungry. Given the opportunity, a 25-pound beagle will cheerfully eat a 20-pound bag of kibble. (Go ahead. Ask me how I know that.) People think they need to increase the portions until the dog is "satisfied ." Some dogs will never be satisfied.

I remember reading about dog food taste tests done by the manufacturers. They will present the dog with a row of kibble in bowls and see which ones they'll eat first. They never use beagles or labs because they'll just go down the line and inhale each one in order.

Also, unless you have a very active dog, the recommended servings on the bag are very generous.
 

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I remember meeting a guy while out walking my dogs, he had a beagle that looked like an overstuffed footstool. Its belly was almost hitting the floor and it could barely move as it waggled along.

Meanwhile Benny was snuffeling along by the lakeside doing his thing.

The man complimented me on my dog and said how nice Benny looked.. 'of course' he told me 'it wont last forever all beagles get fat when they get old you know'

Oh really I said how old is your dog then?
Oh he said she nearly 8 now...

Wow, I said,, not sure what happened to mine then hes 12!
He was 15 when he passed but even then adjustments to diet and constant gentle exercise kept him trim.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I've had labs and "Pit bulls" all my life. They LOVE food and they don't do a whole lot of off the couch stuff. I modified their diet and put up with their whining for years until they finally got the idea that they where not getting more. They where not really hungry, they just liked food.

I have a Hound mutt howly sorta blocky sorta athletic sorta everything dog and he's high energy, and high food drive. He'd literally eat all day long if I let him, but he also works it ALL Off. I can feed him two cups of food and He would burn it all off on his own, which is fine by me. As long as he isn't gaining and if he has to be more lowkey for a day or two I just feed him less.

My poodle.. he doesn't eat he's a picky little thing. Keeping weight on him is impossible. he's go go go and will eat like half a cup of food per feeding, equals out to about a cup and i'd like him eating at least two for his size, and activity levels
 

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To touch on something DaySleepers said, the following conversation actually happened while I was at the vet with one of the critters. I was in one exam room, and the vet was in another room with a different client.

Vet: "Doggy" is overweight. What do you feed him?
Client: "ZXY brand" of grocery store kibble.
Vet: Hmm... how much does he get each day?
Client: Just a couple of cups.
Vet: I'll be right back.
Vet walks past my exam room to the back of the clinic, and reappears a few moments later, carrying a one cup (8 fl oz) measuring cup, and goes back into the other room.
Vet: This is one cup.
Client: Oh, that's a lot smaller than the cup that we've been using.

After a bit more going back and forth, it transpired that their "cup" was actually a three or four cup Tupperware container.... I saw "Doggy". He was a cute houndy mutt that probably should have weighed around 25 pounds, but instead resembled a watermelon on toothpicks at easily twice that.

And I was sadly in the "didn't realize it was happening" camp until after I quit an extremely stressful job (seriously, it took all I had to walk through the door some days), and took my Standard Rat Terrier to the vet for his annual and was shocked to find that he weighed 32 pounds. I knew he had picked up a couple of pounds, but I was truly flabbergasted to find he was 10 pounds over his ideal weight. He immediately got put on a lower calorie food and we started walking. Eventually he got back down to 22 pounds, and looked and probably felt a lot better,
 

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I do agree with most things said.

Of course theres resons for a dog to be overweight, but alot of these reasons are not as common as somebody just not caring to learn about their dogs care throughly. I see more morbildy obese dogs than I see heathy dogs nowpadays. It really makes me stop and be like.. yikes
I think saying its common for somebody to just not care to learn can be a bit simplistic

For one, its hard to know what you don't know.

Meaning, if someone has no reason to think their dog is overweight, they are less likely to seek out info about the proper body condition and weight guidelines for their breed, size and age of dog.

When being over a healthy weight is common place, they don't visually see their dog as an outlier (unless its really obese maybe)

Even vets can be reluctant to discuss weight with dog owners until it gets bad bad. I think this may be in part because it can put owners on the denfensive and maybe alienate them to listen to the vet on more serious or immediately consequential things and I think it can also be in part because people are conditioned that its rude to discuss someones weight and if an owner is also overweight it sets up an uncomfortable dynamic.

i have an uncle who had a very obese Schnauzer mix. Like a barrel with 4 stubby legs. Lets say he should have weighed 20 lbs, at 30 lbs the vet still had not said anything and when my dad asked his brother about the dog's weight, my uncle said "The vet did not say anything last month so it must be OK"
By the time the dog was maybe 35 lbs, the vet finally gently suggested cutting back his kibble and adding some vegetable so he would not feel too hungry. The owners listened and obeyed but only till the dog got back to say 30 lbs because that was when the vet wasn't yet saying anything.
Smart people and caring owners but the kind that take a vet's word (or lack thereof) as gospel.
 

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It is easier to feed them than to do something with them......


Not if someone could explain FIT ( I am not talking average. I am talking working and sporting fit) dogs.... and a FAT owner... I am all ears...
 

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Discussion Starter #14
its also just as easy to feed them less.

I have always admired "fit" dogs.. My dog just wont conform to that though! He's pet weight, a little bit too big for me.. but not fat.
 

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I mean yes, obviously it's better for the dogs to be at a healthier weight and in many cases the owners have the power to make some simple changes and get their pets back in good condition. But educating about these issues is the difficult part, not the solution. As Shell said, even vets, who have the authority and credentials to speak about the animal's health and be taken seriously, have trouble approaching weight issues with clients. You're fighting a lot of cognitive dissonance ("I love my dog, my dog is happy, I'm a good pet owner" clashes with "I am doing something that I thought was good but is actually harming my dog's health and quality of life" in a way our brains literally have trouble coping with). You're also fighting against a culture that is very unkind to fat people, which means that many owners may have trauma associated with weight and/or food that colors how they feed their animals. So can growing up with food insecurities, actually.

In general, we can do our part to have healthy dogs, say "this is what healthy dogs look like", and try to spread awareness of the problems excess weight on our pets can cause. But individually, each situation is going to need its own approach, with a lot of kindness about their circumstances and a lot of social sensitivity.

@JohnnyBandit I actually think the fit dog, fat owner thing is pretty easy to explain! Many fat people are acutely aware of the health problems caused by excess weight, and their dogs aren't limited by the social barriers that exist for humans who are trying to get effective and lasting weight loss. Or by the emotional/mental barriers that can come with having control of your own diet. I totally understand making sure your pets have that opportunity to be healthy and active and participate in sports even when you aren't on that same level for whatever reason.

And fat doesn't mean a person isn't fit. My fat wife (who, for the record, prefers 'fat' to any other descriptor, I'm not being mean here) has played rugby, done MMA, trained for Red Cross rescues, and ran a triathlon and several smaller marathons. I 'look' healthier because I'm heavy but not as fat, but she is far more athletic than I've ever been.
 

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@JohnnyBandit I actually think the fit dog, fat owner thing is pretty easy to explain! Many fat people are acutely aware of the health problems caused by excess weight, and their dogs aren't limited by the social barriers that exist for humans who are trying to get effective and lasting weight loss. Or by the emotional/mental barriers that can come with having control of your own diet. I totally understand making sure your pets have that opportunity to be healthy and active and participate in sports even when you aren't on that same level for whatever reason.
I've always said if I had someone to control the refrigerator for me the way I control food for my dogs, I'd be svelte. I'd hate that person and regularly plot doing away with them, but I'd be slimmer.

That said, both my dogs and I are carrying additional Covid pounds right now. I know why I am but don't understand why they are. We're working on it.
 

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@JohnnyBandit I actually think the fit dog, fat owner thing is pretty easy to explain! Many fat people are acutely aware of the health problems caused by excess weight, and their dogs aren't limited by the social barriers that exist for humans who are trying to get effective and lasting weight loss. Or by the emotional/mental barriers that can come with having control of your own diet. I totally understand making sure your pets have that opportunity to be healthy and active and participate in sports even when you aren't on that same level for whatever reason.

And fat doesn't mean a person isn't fit. My fat wife (who, for the record, prefers 'fat' to any other descriptor, I'm not being mean here) has played rugby, done MMA, trained for Red Cross rescues, and ran a triathlon and several smaller marathons. I 'look' healthier because I'm heavy but not as fat, but she is far more athletic than I've ever been.
Pretty well said..... I have been skinny fit.... Then fat fit..... Now I am just fat.... I got an auto immune disorder and am in a losing battle with MASSIVE doses of Steroids and other drugs....

But my dogs are FIT...
 

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For sure. You can't tell me some dogs don't have similar appetite control problems to us, especially with some of the research done in the satiety gene and labs, but since we have some distance from the problem it's easier to control their caloric intake (in most cases, there are extreme cases of pathological hunger).

Or it's easier for those of us who already have an understanding of how to keep a dog healthy and why it's important. That's the hardest bit. A lot easier to stick to fixed meal portions and healthy treats when you've internalized the consequences of overfeeding and are aware and informed enough to be able to judge for yourself that no, my dog isn't too skinny even if Jim from down the street told me so.
 

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A friend of mine is with the University of Pa. School of Veterinary Medicine and at one time mentioned that letting a dog get overweight can take about 2 years off their life which is a lot for a dog. With exercise and proper diet a dogs weight is easy to control. I think the owners often cave to that sad look given by their dog begging for table scraps.
 
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