Updated on September 17, 2020
Obesity is a huge issue in today’s society. When a dog is overweight, as a society, we generally walk up to them and see them as adorable, fluffy balls of love. That’s not far from the truth. They are cute, cuddly, and adorable. But, what isn’t taken into consideration is what’s happening on the inside.
Dogs who are obese are more prone to conditions like cancer, diabetes, hip dysplasia, and other serious disorders. For the purposes of this article, I will be focusing on how obesity increases the risk of cancer in our dogs.
A study conducted by the Journal of Integrative Veterinary Medicine found “obesity is associated with increased risk of mast cell tumors, mammary tumors, and transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder in dogs.”
Is My Dog Overweight?
You shouldn’t automatically assume your dog is overweight. Every breed is different. Every dog is different.
If you’re unsure what your individual dog’s body should look like, you should consult with your veterinarian. Depending on your dog’s breed, especially if she is a mixed breed, this can be hard to tell at times.
Here are some general guidelines:
Underweight Dogs: You’re able to see your dog’s ribs, backbone, pelvic bone, and/or other bones from a distance. There isn’t much fat or muscle visible.
The Right Amount: Your dog is said to have the right balance of muscle and fat if you can feel her ribs, but there is a bit of tissue covering them. You’re able to see your dog’s waist while standing directly above her. From the side, her abdomen should appear tucked up.
Overweight: There are different stages of obesity. If your dog is overweight, you may not be able to feel her ribs at all. If he is significantly overweight, you will notice a lot of fat near the base of her tail. And, her abdomen won’t be tucked up when you have a side-view.
If you have an extremely furry dog, the process of examining her body can be extremely difficult. Try giving her a bath to take a look. If you still can’t tell because she has an insane amount of fur, like a Samoyed does, don’t panic. The general appearance of your dog also varies based on breed. The body of a Labrador Retriever, for example, is much easier to examine for obesity than the body of a French Bulldog. Your veterinarian will be able to let you know what shape her body is in.
Why Obesity Is Connected To Dog Cancer
Obesity is not healthy for our dogs, just as obesity is not healthy for us, as humans. An excess amount of fat has been linked to cancer in our dogs (most commonly mammary tumors and transitional cell carcinomas).
Fat cells create a substance called adiponectin. Adiponectin is protective and blocks the development of cancer cells. Right now you’re thinking, “this makes no sense.” You’re right, you wouldn’t think so. But, studies have found less adiponectin is secreted if there’s too much fat in the body. This means that the link of protection is loosening more and more as your dog gains weight.
More adiponectin is secreted when fat cells are used to fuel the body. That’s why dogs with lean bodies are less at risk for cancer than dogs who are obese.
Many dog lovers find comfort in feeding their dog with cancer human food. That’s understandable because food is one of the joys of life, but it must be managed and only certain foods should be provided. Items like fat from your steak shouldn’t be given. Instead, you could try a bone broth recipe, which will help boost the immune system (both of you can try this!).
How Should My Dog Be Eating?
There’s no ‘one size fits all’ answer to this question. If you want cups and ounces to help guide you through what your dog should be eating, a veterinarian or nutritionist can help you determine the best amount based on your dog as an individual. Decisions like these are made on a case-by-case basis depending on your dog’s health, breed, body type, and activity level.
If you’re feeding a kibble diet, consider switching to a raw, whole-food, or freeze-dried diet with healthy fats and more nutrition.
Learn more about switching to a raw diet >>
How CBD Can Help Prevent Or Eradicate Obesity
A study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences studied the effects of obesity with CBD. The study found CBD can regulate the proteins causing obesity. There are key proteins in the body that are involved with creating and forming fat cells. CBD has been found to encourage the breakdown of body fat by turning white adipose tissue into brown or beige adipose tissue. CBD also gives the mitochondria (the powerhouses in the cells) more energy to help the body burn calories easier.
CBD is known to lower lipogenesis in the body as well. Lipogenesis is a process in the body where a molecule known as acetyl-CoA is converted into triglycerides to store fat. The anti-inflammatory properties of cannabidiol helps to limit lipogenesis which prevents or reduces obesity.
For mammals who already have a lot of excess fat cells, this means the caloric intake was higher than the animal’s metabolism could handle (in many cases). Unhealthy foods can cause this to occur quickly leading to obesity. That’s why excess fat must be burned continuously. One exercise for the entire week isn’t going to maintain the body’s health. CBD helps increase the metabolic process in the body that helps breakdown excess body fat to give the body a boost.
Exercise, Exercise, Exercise
Of course, there’s no substitute for exercise and a good diet. Even with CBD assisting in preventing and/or reducing weight gain, exercise is critical for your dog’s physical and mental well-being. If your dog is struggling to take those long strolls, you should know that even the smallest task can be turned into a major accomplishment. Manageable challenges should be implemented here.
If it’s a challenge for your dog to walk across the yard, but it’s a doable challenge, you should work up to that task. Once your dog has walked across the yard, give her tons of praise. Even if she gets too tired halfway through, she should still receive praise so she understands she is doing a good job. She’s doing the best she can and needs to know that’s good enough for you. Even the smallest achievements count.
You and your dog can be dependent upon one another to live healthy. Eating the right foods, exercising with one another, and taking life as an adventure one day at a time will help you both stay happy and healthy. Returning to or maintaining a healthy weight is important for both your physical and mental health. You’ll be surprised how much better both of you feel when you’re following the right routine.
Amber Drake is a highly accomplished, world-renowned, and published book author, freelance writer and editor, inspirational speaker, an inspiring teacher, a well-reputed canine behaviorist, a canine cancer researcher, CEO of Canine Companions, and of course, animal lover. Starting with an Associate of Science degree in Biology in 2007 from Jamestown Community College, she has since expanded her knowledge horizon by acquiring a Bachelor of Science in Biology degree with courses from both SUNY Fredonia and Cornell University, followed by a Master of Arts Degree in Education (2011) from Ashford University, a Post-Master’s Educational Certification, and a Doctorate from the North Central University, Prescott Valley Arizona. Drake is a woman of extreme passion with great love for her work as a canine behaviourist, writer, and college professor.
Angela Ardolino is a holistic pet expert who has been caring for animals for over 20 years and operates a rescue farm, Fire Flake Farm, in Florida. She is also the owner of Beautify the Beast, a natural pet salon and shop. After getting her certificate in Medical Cannabis Biology and Therapeutic use from the University of Vermont School of Medicine, she founded CBD Dog Health to provide high quality, all-natural medical cannabis products designed specifically for pets. Angela has seven dogs, Odie a 12-year-old mini-schnauzer, Nina an 8-year-old Doberman. Jolene a 7-year-old mutt, Maza a 7-year-old mutt, Rhemi an 8-year-old poodle, Potato a 15-year-old shih-tzu, and Miss Daisie a 15-year-old black lab, plus 4-10 more at any time that she is fostering or boarding. She uses Full Spectrum Hemp Extract on all her pets at her rescue farm every day and has since 2016. She is a member of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians, the Veterinary Cannabis Association, and has trained hundreds of medical doctors and veterinarians about the therapeutic uses of medical cannabis on animals. Visit www.angelaardolino.com for more information.