The terms "excess weight" or
"obesity" refer to an excessive
accumulation of fat in the body. This may be confined to certain
localized areas, or it may be distributed throughout the organism. It
appears rather commonly in dogs, smaller breeds seeming to be more
susceptible to obesity than larger ones.
Obesity is caused most often by excessive feeding and lack of exercise.
Phlegmatic animals tend to become fat because of insufficient activity
and, of course, lack of exercise. Castration sometimes induces this
phlegmatism and may be considered as another predisposing factor. The
same may be said about spaying though animals get fat after spaying
much less often than after castration. The tendency of castrated
animals to get fat seems to be more marked if the operation is
performed after, rather than before, maturity. Certain glandular
disturbances, such as insufficiency of the secretions of the thyroid
glands, may also result in obesity. Certain anemic conditions which
cause a reduction of muscular energy may also lead to the accumulation
of body fat.
The most common locations of observable body fat deposits are the
neck, hips, shoulders, and abdomen. The animal shows a rapid increase
in weight, a change of body contour, and a change in disposition. The
animal breathes heavily after light exercise. The diagnosis of the
condition is obvious.
Obesity is not good for the well-being of the animal. It often leads to
derangements of the vital organs, especially the heart, and seems to
predispose the animal to digestive disturbances
and anemia. It is advisable, therefore, to administer appropriate
measures to eliminate or control the condition.
Treatment consists in eliminating the cause. Since improper feeding
and lack of exercise are most often responsible, regulated feeding and
proper exercise will commonly result in a rapid cure. There is also now
manufactured a special reducing diet for dogs that can be obtained on
a veterinarian's prescription. This method is both scientific and
effective. Where there are constitutional disturbances, ultimate
success will depend on how amenable these conditions are to treatment.
In fat castrated or spayed animals, usually nothing is done because of
the long duration and often prohibitive expense of the treatment. In
the latter instance, probably the best routine would be to feed the
prescription reducing diet.