New research from the UK reveals overweight dogs are more likely to have shorter lives than those at ideal body weights.
Results from the study, conducted retrospectively across two decades and published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, revealed the lifespan of dogs that were overweight was up to two and a half years shorter when compared to ideal-weight dogs.
The study—conducted by a team from the University of Liverpool and Mars Petcare’s WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition—examined more than 50,000 dogs across 12 of the most popular dog breeds.
The effect of being overweight was seen in all breeds, although the magnitude of the effect differed, ranging from between five months less for male German shepherds to two years and six months less for male Yorkshire terriers.
Although the study did not examine the reasons behind the extra pounds in dogs, feeding habits are thought to play a role in pet obesity.
“Owners are often unaware that their dog is overweight, and many may not realise the impact that it can have on health,” study co-author Alex German said.
“What they may not know is that, if their beloved pet is too heavy, they are more likely to suffer from other problems such as joint disease, breathing issues, and certain types of cancer, as well as having a poorer quality of life. These health and wellbeing issues can significantly impact how long they live.”