A third of the domestic dogs in Chile is obese. Why?

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SANTIAGO – As Chileans confront a growing obesity crisis so do their closest companions, their dogs. Recent studies show that dog obesity rates among dogs are very similar to those of their human counterparts, which sits at about a third of the population. Sedentary lifestyle and poor diet choices are the culprits for obesity in both humans and their furry companions.

A new study conducted by the Veterinary Medical College (Colmevet) revealed that 33% of domestic dogs in Chile are overweight or obese. This number is lower in comparison to the USA and Canada, where 56% and 54% of pets are overweight, respectively.  

Main causes for obesity in pets, as well as in their human counterparts is a sedentary lifestyle. Many people are working longer hours and living in smaller spaces, both of which are contributing to a less active and balanced lifestyle.

Many dog owners take their dogs out simply to relieve themselves. This is simply not enough as dogs need to more aerobic exercise such as running or jogging, lasting at least 20 minutes a day, according to Franco Gonzales, member of Colmevet.

Another major cause is diet. Many dog owners either overfeed their pets during regular meals, provide poor dietary choices or indiscriminately supply food every time a pet asks for it.  

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Impact of health and well-being

Obesity is one of greatest threats to health in developed countries, leading to decreased quality and expectancy of life. It is associated with cardio-respiratory, orthopaedic, endocrine and oncological disorders in humans and dogs alike.

Due to the severe health effects of obesity, the UK has taken extreme measure in its Animal Welfare Act, which states that owners who allow their dogs to become grossly obese can be charged with animal cruelty or neglect. The law came into effect after two brothers were convicted in 2007 for allowing their Labrador to become dangerously obese.

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Solutions

Those concerned with their pet’s health should start by accessing their dog’s weight category. The dog’s ribs should be easily palpable, with minimal fat covering and its waist should be easily identifiable with the abdomen tucked in (see image below).  For more information please visit this website.

Secondly, owners should consult a veterinarian to determine the ideal amount of food for their dog’s age, size and breed and follow a regimented feeding schedule. Finally, owners must provide enough physical exercise on a daily basis.

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