redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online
Humans aren’t the only ones who should be concerned about obesity, according to new research claiming that overweight pet dogs have a shorter life expectancy than their ideal-weight counterparts.
Experts from the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition reviewed data on a variety of popular dog breeds from throughout the US, and found that those who are overweight in middle age suffer a life expectancy reduction of up to 10 months versus ideal weight canines.
The study looked at the body condition of 10 different breeds of both male and female dogs, all of which had been neutered or spayed and were between the ages of 6.5 years and 8.5 years. There were an average of 546 dogs per breed, and data was collected by veterinarians from Banfield Pet Hospital locations nationwide.
“We saw that overweight dogs tend to have a shorter life expectancy. This was particularly pronounced in five breeds – Labrador, Shih Tzu, American Cocker Spaniel, Golden Retriever and Beagle,” lead scientist Carina Salt of the Waltham Center explained in a statement.
“This is the first reported research of its kind looking specifically at a large number of pet dogs. The findings therefore provide important insights into the risks of being overweight for dogs in the general population,” she added. “Being overweight in middle age can have long-term consequences and, depending on breed, mean a reduction in life span of between one and ten months.”
The study was a collaborative effort between Salt’s team at the Waltham Center and Banfield Pet Hospital, and is one part of a wider body of ongoing collaborative research aimed at understanding the causes and consequences of pet obesity. The findings were presented at the Waltham International Nutritional Sciences Symposium (WINSS), which was held this week in Portland, Oregon.
According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, more than half of pet canines in the US are overweight – a condition which has been linked to diabetes, arthritis and high blood pressure as well as kidney and respiratory diseases.
While reducing their size will help, Stacey Stowe of the New York Times said that lowering a dog’s caloric intake is not enough. In a September 25 article, Stowe said that an increasing number of pet owners have been taking their dogs to the gyms or pet spas and enrolling them in fitness programs.
“Exercise is vital to a pet and to any weight-loss program, said Cesar Millan, the dog trainer. Basically, anything ‘that makes a dog a dog is good exercise,’ Mr. Millan said,” the New York Times writer wrote. “That means walking, running, swimming, herding, jumping in agility training, search-and-rescue work.”
“The optimal amount and intensity of exercise depends on the age, breed and health of the dog; some are so overweight that short walks are the only option. And shorten exercise and increase access to water in hot weather,” Stowe added. “Find out from your veterinarian how many calories your dog should consume every day… and don’t let pets appeal to your guilt to get you into overfeeding them.”