In other words, Obesity is not "the superlative of overweight":
If you agree with this definition of Obesity versus overweight then we can move on.
Much like for people, the seemingly inoffensive Obesity is one of the most serious health problems that dogs get:
Who suffers from Obesity
What is wrong with the diet to cause Obesity?
There are more reasons but the two key reasons are:
- too much carbohydrates in industial "pet food" and overall in all commercial "pet food", because carbohydrates are cheapest and so can be added in bulk. While say meat cannot because it's costly and would eat away from the producer's profit. Surprise: Carbohydrates are fattening, not fat.
- too much antibiotics in farm feed, and so in the meat from the livestock of the farms. Antibiotics are growth promoters: they make livestock fatter, more valuable on sale. For this reason in the USA antibiotics are added to the farm feed. In the EU this is forbidden and heavily punished if caught.
Meaning, the more meat you feed - either within industrial "pet food" or as "raw meat diet" - the more of the harmful and fattening antibiotics your dog will consume without that you know. Well, now you know, others still don't.
This is why industrial "dog food" and "dog treats" can easily cause Obesity. Carbohydrates and antibiotics lead to fat reserves unorderly growing around organs such that the cardiovascular system cannot adequately fulfil its role.
If a dog remains obese for months or even years, the dog will start having trouble with basic exercise, develop breathing problems, and mid-term may suffer from Pancreatitis, Diabetes, Heart Disorders, Kidney failure, or other organ failure.
Are German Shepherds at risk of Obesity too?
Not as much as dogs in general, no. Because GSDs are high metabolism herding dogs, and IF you let them exercise freely as much as they want then GSDs generally will not become obese.
Problem is: My German Shepherd no longer has enough space to exercise indoors at all, and outdoors in rain I avoid it because a wet dirty dog in a tiny house is beyond what you can imagine...
And the problem with many other busy dog owners is: their dog isn't comprehensively house-trained and so when they are at work all day, the dog can't be safely left FREE while alone at home. A caged dog can't exercise.
The largest GSD study of its kind, Dan O'Neill's analysis of VetCompass data, reviewed all 263 conditions distinctly recorded by veterinarians in primary care in the UK, and only 5.2% of the GSDs had been diagnosed as "obese or overweight".
Meaning, at least among all UK German Shepherds, actual Obesity is even much less common: most of the diagnosed dogs of course were merely overweight.
Early warning signs of Obesity are:
- Shortness of breath - exceeding 10 minutes after exercise ended, even when lying down
- Slow to get up - without the existence of a physical ailment, and before 10 years of age
- General listlessness and lethargy
- Dog training is based on treats rather than praise
- Dog diet is industrial "dog food", and meals are served at irregular times or worse, left out all day.
That's why a quality vet won't just look at the dog or compare scale readings, but they will examine the dog and consider factors like blood pressure and constitution, heart rate at rest and under load, dog meals, meal times, and feeding routine, exercise regime, living environment, etc.
Also note that even if say, you serve your dog only 1% more calories than the dog needs for your exercise regime then the dog can suffer from Obesity within less than a year!
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