Are you Killing Your Dog with Kindness? You are if your Pet Food Contains this Common Ingredient. By Deborah Shores, DVM

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As with humans, dog obesity is a common health problem and on the rise. A large percentage of dogs are considered overweight, but sadly, many owners don’t view them as being “overweight.”   Unfortunately, most cases of obesity rest on the human, as many don’t realize that what they are feeding their pet is causing the weight issues.

According to a 2012 survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP),    52.5% of 36.7 million dogs were deemed overweight or obese. Some breeds showed greater risk for excess weight, such as Labrador Retrievers (58.9% overweight) and Golden Retrievers (62.7% overweight). Scarily enough, 45.8% of dog owners incorrectly viewed their overweight or obese dogs as “normal weight”.(1)
Obese dogs are at risk for severe health issues, such as reduced lifespan, diabetes, hypothyroidism, bone and joint pain (such as arthritis), hypertension, and other illnesses that affect the digestive and respiratory systems. Type-2 or insulin resistance diabetes once was very uncommon in dogs but is being recognized more and more in overweight individuals. Obesity is common in dogs of all ages, but it mostly occurs in middle-aged dogs, between the age of 5 and 10.  

Diet

Diet plays a huge role in canine obesity, particularly the use of commercial dog food. The vast majority of dog foods available commercially contain ingredients that are biologically inappropriate for dogs, as well as being loaded with fats and sugars. Most commercial dog foods also contain cellulose, which is a filler product that creates volume and helps to cut costs during production. Shockingly, cellulose is typically a mix of rice fractions, peanut hulls, and other grain byproducts. 

Because these filler byproducts aren’t nutritious, your dog may feel satisfied after eating, but he/she isn’t getting any cellular nourishment. Thus, your dog feels the need to eat more and more, while still not fulfilling his/her biological nutritional requirements, despite the high amount of calories consumed. Ultimately, unused calories convert into fat. 

We recommend feeding a life stage and species-appropriate, home-made diet with complex carbohydrates. Some are available on the market commercially, however many pet owners choose to prepare their own by following a recipe. It is important to consult with a veterinary nutritionist for balanced recipes. Dr. Susan Wynn, a well-respected holistic veterinarian and nutritionist in Atlanta, Georgia has a very helpful website for dog owners looking to make a diet change.

Killing Them With Kindness

Everyone loves giving their dog treats and large portions. Feeding our dogs is another way that we can show our love for them, but in many cases we are killing them with our kindness.  Food can equal love but there is such a thing as, too much of a good thing, leading to obesity and related diseases. Commercially made dog treats are laden with fat, sugar and preservatives. In recent years, chicken jerky treats from China have even killed hundreds of dogs.(2)  Take control of your dog’s snacking and only give them very small portions of fresh, locally-sourced raw fruits and veggies.  A portion the size of your thumbnail for large dogs 2-3 times a day is a low-calorie, low-carbohydrate option that won’t pack on the pounds.  Excellent whole food snacks include raw carrot, sugar snap peas, apple, banana, blueberries and sweet potato.(3) 

Nutritional Supplements, Prevention and Treatment

The liver is one of the most important natural detoxifying organs in the body. Obese individuals often have trouble with their liver and excess fat stored there can cause liver dysfunction and fatty liver disease (hepatic lipidosis). Overweight and obesity also allows for more toxins to be stored deep in the body’s fat layers. If your dog is overweight or obese, it is extremely important to support those vital organs while he or she loses weight and detoxifies.  Elimay’sDetox and Longevity supplements offer a unique blend of herbs to help support your dog achieve and maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle.  

The typical North American or ‘Western’ diet is plagued with toxic levels of sugar and fat. It also contains tragically low levels of essential fatty acids, like Omega-3 fatty acids. Commercial diets for dogs are also lacking in vital omegas. It is important to give your dog an omega fatty acid supplement daily, aiding obesity prevention and supporting joint, brain and skin health.  

Acupuncture has been clinically shown to help dogs lose weight efficiently by improving mobility.(4)  Your holistic veterinarian can use wet or dry needle methods for your dog.  Wet methods involve injecting B vitamins into specific acupuncture points, which also provide your dog with a boost in energy.

Exercise

Exercise is a crucial step in contributing to your dog’s weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight. Unfortunately, exercise does not mean running around the house or a short game of fetch. To receive the benefits of exercise and to burn off that excess fat, your dog’s heart rate needs to be elevated for a minimum of twenty minutes throughout the week. Frequent, brisk walks are a great way to accomplish this.

Genetic Factors

Some breeds are prone to weight gain. If you own one of these breeds, monitor your dog’s weight closely and weight them frequently. 

These breeds include: 
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Basset Hounds
  • Terriers
  • Beagles

Ultimately, obesity is a serious issue that causes many weight-related disorders. Fortunately, it is that is mostly treatable with a quality diet and frequent exercise. 

Do you need help with your dog’s weight loss program? Are you curious about how Elimay’s products can help your dog feel better than ever? Feel free to send me your questions on our Ask the Vet feature. 

Resources

(1)  2012 National Pet Obesity Survey Results. http://www.petobesityprevention.com/2012-national-pet-obesity-survey-results/

(2)  Thompson, M. et al., 2013 September. Acquired Proximal Renal Tubulopathy in Dogs Exposed to a Common Dried Chicken Treat: Retrospective Study of 108 Cases (2007-2009). Australian Vet J. 91(9):368-373.

(3)  ASPCA Poison Control. People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pet. http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/people-foods-avoid-feeding-your-pets

(4)  Hardie, E. et. al, 2003. Managing Chronic Pain in Dogs: The Next Level. Pain Management Symposium Proceedings. Veterinary Information Network. 

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ABOUT Deborah Shores, DVM
Dr. Deborah Shores is a graduate of the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine. She has many years of experience working in animal hospitals and clinics from Virginia to South Carolina, treating mainly dogs and cats. She has a special interest in nutrition and holistic veterinary medicine and plans to pursue an acupuncture certificate at the Chi Institute in Florida. She has two cats and recently lost her 8 year-old Australian Shepard to liver cancer.X

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