The Many Dangers of Dog Obesity

By: Dr. Eddy Collins, DVM

Obesity is widespread and is considered the number one disease in dogs. In the US, over 25% of dogs are categorized as obese, while at least 50% are considered overweight. By any definition, that is considered an epidemic.

Excessive Wear and Tear

A dog that weighs more than 20% over its ideal weight is considered obese, but even lesser amounts of extra weight can have a big impact on overall health. All that extra weight causes their bodies to have to work much harder than it should to do just about anything. There is more strain on the joints and back when getting up and down, using stairs, and definitely when running and jumping. There is also a more constant strain on the heart and lungs, which makes it much harder for them to remain active. This extra body mass, made up mainly of fat, means the liver is also overly stressed. All of this greatly impacts their overall quality of life.

To make matters worse, overweight and obese dogs are much more likely to develop some very serious diseases and are known to have much shorter life spans than dogs maintained at an ideal weight. Obesity frequently leads to diabetes, heart and lung disease, arthritis along with other bone and joint diseases, skin and coat conditions, and all types of cancers. What’s even sadder, is that it is almost always preventable.

Dog Food Math

There are several factors that can contribute to a dog becoming overweight or obese. Just like with people, it is simple math that determines how much your dog weighs. The number of calories eaten minus the number of calories burned, during a certain period of time, will determine how much weight gain or loss occurs during that period. If your dog is gaining weight, they are consuming more calories than they are burning. It’s as simple as that.

While how much your dog is allowed to eat explains one component of their overall weight, one of the biggest contributors to obesity is the kind of food they eat. The average carbohydrate content of a commercial dog food is more than 50%. This is mainly due to the use of cheaper ingredients in these foods in order to keep the cost of manufacturing down and their profit margins up. This extreme imbalance in nutrition contributes to a long list of problems, obesity being the most common.

A dog’s body wasn’t designed to eat high levels of carbohydrates anytime, but especially not on a daily basis. Because of this, diets high in carbohydrates are a major contributor to canine diseases including obesity and diabetes, and your dog is eating this at every meal. This is similar to a person eating every meal at a fast food restaurant. We all know where that will get us.

Another common contributor to obesity is commercial dog treats. These are typically very high in calories, not to mention many other potentially harmful ingredients. Many owners give their dogs treats out of love, but giving too many on a regular basis, actually causes them harm. There are many natural treat alternatives that are low in calories and don’t contain the harmful additions. You can replace commercial treats with green beans, carrots, celery, and even small pieces of chicken.

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Finding Solutions

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The other side of this simple math equation, is insufficient exercise. Proper exercise is an important part of overall health, both physical and mental, and contributes greatly to your dog's overall condition and behavior. It is also a great way to spend quality time with your dog. Exercise in an obese or overweight dog must be handled very carefully to ensure their bodies can handle this extra activity and to avoid causing other more serious issues.

Many times the solution is as simple as changing foods from a high carbohydrate commercial diet to a high protein, high fiber homemade dog food. Not only is this a great way to help your dog lose weight, but it is also a much healthier diet for many other reasons. This combined with adjusting the amount of exercise that your dog is getting, may be all that is needed to gradually get your dog back to their proper weight. Also, don’t forget to replace the high calorie treats with more natural alternatives.

There are some medical conditions that can lead to your dog becoming overweight or obese and also make it very difficult for them to lose weight. Thyroid disease in dogs results in an underactive thyroid gland. The thyroid is responsible for metabolism. When it's not functioning properly, your dog is not able to burn calories the way they should and thus gains weight. They may also show signs of lethargy along with skin and hair problems. This is a condition that can be easily diagnosed and corrected by your veterinarian, but like everything else related to your dog, it is best addressed as early as possible.

Only you can help your dog avoid the most common canine disease and all of its related problems by feeding them a proper diet, one that is best suited for how their bodies naturally work. Combine this with regularly monitoring their weight and making any necessary adjustments to food and exercise. Not only will you help them live a longer, healthier, and happier lifestyle, you just might find that some of these ideas work for you as well.
Dr. Eddy Collins, DVM

Coco's Canine Cuisine

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Coco’s Canine Cuisine-Homemade Dog Food

Dogs are carnivore animals, before their domestication, wolves needed to hunt their preys and their diets consisted mostly of protein. However, over time we have modified the diets of our companion animals providing with diets very similar to ours (omnivores animals). This kind of diet does not deliver the amount of proteins and vitamins that they need. Most commercial dog foods are prepared with animal sub-products and low quality proteins, which, in most cases, do not provide the essential amino acids needed by dogs. In addition, many commercial foods contain pesticides, preservatives, dyes, artificial flavors and other chemicals that can be very harmful to your dog’s health.

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Preparing our dog’s food at home is a great alternative to provide our beloved companions with the right nutrition. But who has all that time? With Coco’s Canine Cuisine you can prepare a healthy, affordable and delicious dog food in about half an hour each week. All you need to do is mix Coco’s Canine Cuisine dog food base with any kind of animal origin protein (beef, chicken, pork…) to obtain a very high quality dog food.

In nature, canines would not eat the same every day, after all, who does that? With this product you can add variety to your dog’s diet, which will keep them with good appetite. In addition, mixing Coco’s Canine Cuisine will automatically create a nutritionally balanced meal, which is essential for your dog to maintain a healthy weight and prevent many diseases.

Premium dog foods are quite expensive and, depending on the kind of protein that you use, preparing you dog’s food at home could be less expensive and it will always be a healthier option. Preparing your own dog food has a lot of benefits and now Coco’s Canine Cuisine has made it easy and affordable to take care of our dear companions’ health.

Choosing the Right Food for your Dog

Choosing the right dog food can be quite an uphill challenge for dog owners, especially when he/she is a first time owner or new to this field. The most important thing to remember while choosing a food for your dog is to make sure that it has the necessary amount of proteins, vitamins and other essential nutrients required to make it a well balanced diet. The growth of your dog depends on what food you give it, irrespective of the breed. The Bone structure, development, digestion, dental hygiene, weight, skin and coat are all linked to the nutritional value of the diet provided by you for your dog.

General factors to consider while choosing the right food for your dog:

  1. Age:  The age of your dog is an important factor as the type of food and the proportions of nutrients required vary from a growing pup to an adult dog. You may want to consult a doctor before choosing the food for your pup initially as inappropriate feeding and harmful products can lead to your dog to obesity, improper bone growth and unusual changes in behavior.
  1. Health Conditions:  It is important to know about your dog’s existing health condition before choosing the right food for it. Some dogs may be slow in growth and may need added nutrients in their diet while others may grow rapidly and will need to be fed accordingly. Existing conditions like obesity, stunted growth, breathing problems and ignorance need to be taken into account before choosing the food for your dog.
  1. Activities/Lifestyle:  This is also a key issue to note while choosing the food for your dog. As, the diet and proportions of food differ from a working dog and a normal pet. A working dog requires a larger diet with the need for specific nutrients depending on the type of work, conditions and so on.
  1. Allergies:  This is the most important factor when it comes to choosing the right food for your dog is to know about any existing allergies your dog has or has developed over a period of time. This is a vital factor as inappropriate feeding of a food that your dog is allergic to may lead to severe health problems in the near future.

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Apart from this, one of the questions most dog owners ponder about while choosing the food for their dog is “Whether to buy dog food from the market or feed the dog homemade food”. The answer to this question remains in the hands of the owner as he/she needs to decide based on their schedule if it is possible to dedicate part of their time to cooking food for their dog. Packed dog food is good and has the nutrients required for a regular growing dog but if you really love your pet and want to give it the best possible food to enhance its growth and development, homemade dog food is highly recommended as it is fresh, prepared daily and has more nutritional values than the packed dog food. For more information on homemade dog food and recipes, please visit www.cocoscaninecuisine.com.

Dog food available in the market Store Bought

Homemade Dog Food
Homemade

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Dog Food Economics and Marketing

By: Dr. Eddy Collins, DVM

Why are there so many different brands of dog foods on the market? The answer is simple, economics. This is an extremely profitable business. This is also the same answer to the majority of questions asked about the foods themselves. Why is it that so many commercial dog foods have such a high carbohydrate content, when dogs are primarily carnivores? It is simply because meat is more expensive than the foods that are being used. Regularly feeding high carbohydrate foods to dogs is similar to people eating junk or fast food at every meal. We all know where that leads.

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Dog Food Economics

Dog foods have huge profit margins and there are currently almost 200 different brands on the market. However, 80% of that market is controlled by only 5, very well-known companies. Colgate-Palmolive makes Hill’s Science Diet, and Procter & Gamble are the makers of Iams and Eukanuba. Mars is the maker of Pedigree, Nutro, and Royal Canin, while Del Monte Foods produces Kibbles and Bits, Gravy Train, and Nature’s Recipe. Last, but not least, is Nestle who makes Beneful, Mighty Dog, and Alpo.

You’ll notice that these companies are very easily recognized names from the human food industry. That’s not a coincidence. Commercial dog foods began, and still thrive today, because they heavily use the by-products of human food production. These companies had a waste product and saw a way to turn their left overs into a huge profit. Today, over 6 million tons of dog food is sold in the U.S. every year.

You’ll also see that these huge corporations are technically competing against themselves. Why? Economics. They can produce, and market, many different products, with different labels, widely varying claims, and at a wide range of prices. Unfortunately, the food inside the packaging is remarkably similar. Many times the actual manufacturing process is carried out by entirely different companies from the ones that own and market the individual brands.

Dog Food Marketing

If you have a great product, but no one really knows about it, you probably won't be very successful. On the other hand, you can have a very mediocre product, but market it well and be extremely successful.

Pet food is a more than $20 billion industry. $1 billion of that is annually spent on marketing.

One reason that pet food manufacturers spend so much on marketing is that most people are not interested in taking the considerable amount of time that it takes to fully understand what their dog should be eating and what's actually in their dog's food. Instead many people base their choice of food on what’s easiest and what is most appealing to them.

The marketing concepts used to market dog foods are so successful that the same ideas are applied in many different industries other than dog food. When a product is marketed to, and bought by, someone other than the consumer, there is actually a term used to describe the techniques used. That term is “Dog Food Marketing”.

So naturally, all of the marketing strategies target the dog owner. The reason this is important is because when evaluating a food, every decision that you are considering should be made from the viewpoint of your dog. This is even more important considering the fact that commercial diets are designed to be fed every day, which means that whatever is in the food, is going into your dog on a very regular, unvarying basis.

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Marketing Strategies and Gimmicks

Compare the images on the outside packaging of dog foods, to the actual contents or the list of ingredients, and you’ll see they are rarely representative.

Like many other types of products on the market, dog food is sold with gimmicks and marketing language that helps to make it a hugely profitable business. All of the language that is used, is targeting the purchaser, not the consumer.

Any dog food can be labeled as “Premium”, “Super Premium”, “Ultra Premium”, “Gourmet”, or “Holistic”. They don’t have to contain any different or higher quality ingredients than any other food, and they don’t have to meet any higher nutritional or manufacturing standards. Companies will also use terms like “Nature” or “Natural” in the actual name of a food, without any type of qualification. These are just a few examples of how misleading dog food marketing can be.

As we’ve seen from the history of pet food contamination, recent pet food recalls, and from the results of recent studies in early 2015, choosing a premium brand and paying premium prices doesn’t ensure that it’s a safe or good nutritional choice for your dog.

A very athletic, extremely active dog, or a working dog will require more quality calories in a typical day than a couch potato. However, foods that claim to be specifically for athletic dogs or for a certain breed are all purely marketing. There are only two nutritional standards for dog foods, one for adults and one for dogs that are growing, pregnant, or lactating. Any other claims are simply marketing.

Dog foods that claim to contain “human grade” ingredients don’t actually have to contain them. They only have to be produced in a plant that is approved to process human food. This is very convenient in the case of some of these major corporations, as this usually occurs at night after human food production has ended.

True dog food marketing is not geared toward animals. The reality is that dogs don’t care what color or shape their food is, they can’t evaluate it for its healthiness, and they definitely can’t go out and purchase it. They don’t really get to decide what they eat or don’t eat. They have you for that.

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HEALTHY FOOD FOR YOUR DOG