Dog Manual

Excess Weight

The terms "excess weight" or "obesity" refer to an excessive accumulation of fat in the body. This may be confined to certain localized areas, or it may be distributed throughout the organism. It appears rather commonly in dogs, smaller breeds seeming to be more susceptible to obesity than larger ones.

Obesity is caused most often by excessive feeding and lack of exercise. Phlegmatic animals tend to become fat because of insufficient activity and, of course, lack of exercise. Castration sometimes induces this phlegmatism and may be considered as another predisposing factor. The same may be said about spaying though animals get fat after spaying much less often than after castration. The tendency of castrated animals to get fat seems to be more marked if the operation is performed after, rather than before, maturity. Certain glandular disturbances, such as insufficiency of the secretions of the thyroid glands, may also result in obesity. Certain anemic conditions which cause a reduction of muscular energy may also lead to the accumulation of body fat.

The most common locations of observable body fat deposits are the neck, hips, shoulders, and abdomen. The animal shows a rapid increase in weight, a change of body contour, and a change in disposition. The animal breathes heavily after light exercise. The diagnosis of the condition is obvious.

Obesity is not good for the well-being of the animal. It often leads to derangements of the vital organs, especially the heart, and seems to predispose the animal to digestive disturbances and anemia. It is advisable, therefore, to administer appropriate measures to eliminate or control the condition.

Treatment consists in eliminating the cause. Since improper feeding and lack of exercise are most often responsible, regulated feeding and proper exercise will commonly result in a rapid cure. There is also now manufactured a special reducing diet for dogs that can be obtained on a veterinarian's prescription. This method is both scientific and effective. Where there are constitutional disturbances, ultimate success will depend on how amenable these conditions are to treatment. In fat castrated or spayed animals, usually nothing is done because of the long duration and often prohibitive expense of the treatment. In the latter instance, probably the best routine would be to feed the prescription reducing diet.