Skyrocketing rates of obesity in dogs is being blamed for an increase in arthritis amongst our four-legged friends.
Studies have shown that the number of dogs suffering from the joint disorder has tripled, which has led some experts to conclude that our pets are just too fat.
Vets are urging dog owners to be mindful of how much they’re feeding their pets, and their pets’ weight, as the study also predicts that reported cases of arthritis will only continue to rise.
“It is entirely plausible that we are experiencing a pet obesity epidemic, with increasing numbers of pets – including dogs – that are overweight or obese,” said Sean Wensley, President of the British Veterinary Association (BVA).
He added, “carrying excess weight is a clear risk factor for arthritis,” and blamed pet owners for overfeeding their dogs, and not always feeding them the right things.
“Increasingly, people are feeding their dogs good quality, so-called ‘complete’ pet foods, which contain the right nutrients in the right proportions – but not necessarily in the right amounts,” he said.
“In addition, family members and friends regularly give dogs treats and scraps – each slipping a little bit here and there. This can include all manner of food intended for humans – like cheese, chips, curry, scones, and cakes.”
Wensley says that dogs have small bodies, and can struggle to burn off excess calories.
But while the numbers do suggest a correlation between weight and arthritis, there are other causes as well. Dogs, like humans, are now living longer than ever before, and old age can also bring on the disorder.
Vets are urging dog owners to get in touch if they think their dog may be suffering from arthritis, since the disorder can be treated if detected.
Treatment options include weight-management programs, joint supplements, anti-inflammatory drugs, and painkillers to ease discomfort.