Obesity in dogs: associated conditions

Obesity in dogs: associated conditions

Following on from my post on risk factors for obesity in dogs (https://biologybehindthepet.wordpress.com/2017/06/28/obesity-in-dogs-risk-factors/), this post describes the conditions that can arise in dogs as a result of obesity.

Associated conditions

Ass Con.png

Figure 1 Summary of conditions associated with obesity in dogs. Taken from: https://uk.pinterest.com/pin/529524868662145291


Bone disease

Obesity is strongly associated with diseases of the bone and joints such as osteoarthritis. This is due to the increased weight and load caused by obesity, which puts increased pressure on the joints. It has also been shown that weight loss results in improvement in symptoms and mobility.



Some substances produced in excess due to obesity have been implicated in causing the excess growth of cells, which leads to cancer.


Respiratory disease

Obesity can worsen respiratory disease and can also affect cardiac function. Obesity is a predisposing factor for windpipe collapse in dogs, which results in a cough, exercise intolerance and difficulty breathing. This is due to the reduced space in the airway as shown in Figure 2.


Figure 2 Illustration of what happens to a dog’s windpipe when it collapses. Revised from:: http://vhc.missouri.edu/small-animal-hospital/small-animal-internal-medicine/minimally-invasive-interventional-procedures/tracheal-collapse-medical-management-versus-stents/  



Obesity can result in dogs becoming incontinent due to the increase in fat moving the bladder out of its normal position resulting in pressure on the bladder. Obesity in pregnant dogs can also lead to difficulty giving birth due to fat around the birth canal reducing the space for puppies to pass through.


This pinterest page has some excellent infographics on obesity in dogs with more information on how to prevent obesity and how feeding your dog too much can impact on their health – https://uk.pinterest.com/pin/529524868662145291/


The main risk factors for obesity can exacerbate the problem of obesity in certain dogs. The easiest risk factor to control is ad lib feeding by feeding your dog a restricted diet to prevent obesity. The conditions associated with obesity can be very serious and are not as easy to treat as obesity itself.


I hope this post has helped to warn of the conditions associated with obesity to encourage dog owners to be proactive in preventing their dog from becoming obese.


See you next time….

My next blog posts in this series will be on obesity in cats.



Edney, A.T. and Smith, P.M. 1986. Study of obesity in dogs visiting veterinary practices in the United Kingdom. The Veterinary Record, 118, 391-396.

German, A.J. 2006. The Growing Problem of Obesity in Dogs and Cats. J. Nutr. 136, 1940-1946.

Kealy, R.D., Lawler, D.F., Ballam, J.M., Mantz, S.L., Biery, D.N., Greeley, E.H., Lust, G., Segre, M., Smith, G.K., Stowe, H.D. 2002. Effects of diet restriction on life span and age-related changes in dogs. J. Am. Vet. Med. Assoc., 220, 1315-1320.

Lund, E.M., Armstrong, P.J., Kirk, C.A., Klausner, J.S. 2006. Prevalence and Risk Factors for Obesity in Adult Dogs from Private US Veterinary Practices. Intern J Appl Res Vet Med, 4, 177-186.

Marshall, W.G., Bockstahler, B.A., Hulse, D.A., Carmichael, S. 2009. A review of osteoarthritis and obesity: current understanding of the relationship and benefit of obesity treatment and prevention in the dog. Vet Comp Orthop Traumatol, 22, 339-345.


Disclaimer: This blog is intended for interest and education only. I am not a vet and if you have any concerns about your pet you must always consult a veterinary surgeon.


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