Can A Few Extra Pounds Hurt Your Pooch?

Giving our pets food each day is a definite way to show that we care. And it’s hard not to love how excited dogs and cats can get at the mere mention of a treat. But too much food and too many of these treats can have dangerous consequences for your pet. According to recent pet obesity statistics, nearly 54% of all dogs in the US are considered obese. This condition, which is not dependent on the amount of body weight, but rather the amount of body fat, often causes the need for expensive medical care and/or premature death.

Most people are surprised to learn that obesity is one of the greatest health threats to pets. Dogs and cats bodies store extra calories in adipose tissue, or fat, beneath the skin and around the internal organs. Too much adipose tissue has been linked to a higher risk of diabetes, elevated blood pressure, and osteoarthritis. Excess amounts of adipose tissue can increase the workload of the heart. Over time, this may result in heart disease. It can also complicate tracheal collapse in smaller dog breeds, and laryngeal paralysis (LarPar) in older dogs.

An abundance of adipose tissue can affect your pet’s ability to properly manage blood glucose (blood sugar), resulting in a pre-diabetic or diabetic condition. Adipose tissue also produces proinflammatory factors, which can also cause insulin resistance. Dogs who suffer from insulin resistance require diet restrictions or modifications and in many instances, two insulin injections each day are also needed. Unfortunately, the related laboratory testing to monitor blood sugar and assist with the prescription of insulin can be both expensive and time-consuming.

Osteoarthritis, or inflammation of the joints, is definitely aggravated by excessive weight. The pressure of those extra pounds pushing down on the articular cartilage in the joints causes inflammation. This increased and continued force also wears down the cartilage until the joint surface has been depleted of its protective cartilage layer.

Now that you understand all of the dangers of excessive weight in our pets, you may be wondering can be done to keep your pet happy and healthy. Exercise is usually a great place to start. Quality time spent walking with your canine friend will benefit both you and your dog! Next, look at the pet’s diet in terms of the amount and quality of food. Veterinarians are a wonderful source of nutritional information and they can help you develop a specific food and exercise plan for your furry family members.

If you pet is already overweight, now is a great time to take action. On April 1st, LakeCross Veterinary is offering a month-long weight management program for dogs called the “LakeCross Pounders”. This program was specifically designed to help dogs who are a little too “fluffy”. The program includes: a personal consultation to develop an individualized weight loss plan for your pet, a physical exam at the program halfway point, and a final consultation where you will receive instructions to help you maintain your dog’s healthy weight. Participants also qualify for special discounts, including buy 2, get 1 dog food offers, and 60% off packages for underwater treadmill sessions at the LakeCross Veterinary office. If your pet is overweight, we hope you will help him or her spring into action this April. To learn more about the LakeCross Pounders program, go to

Just remember that our pets are like people. For good health they need exercise, and a healthy diet without too many treats. This will help them avoid all the problems that come with obesity.

To learn more about the LakeCross Pounders Canine Weight Loss program or for more information, call 704-948-6300 or go to

 Originally published March 2017 in the Lake Norman Citizen.

Dr. Jean Tuttle is a veterinarian with LakeCross Veterinary in Huntersville. The vets in the big yellow house have been treating pets like family for 20 years. For more information, call 704-948-6300.