As in people, dogs carrying extra pounds of weight place extra demands on virtually all the organs of their bodies. When we overload these organs, disease and sometimes death are the consequences. The health risks to overweight dogs are serious and every dog owner should be aware of them. The more common consequences of obesity in dogs are discussed below.

Diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes)

One of the most common complications of obesity in dogs is the development of diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes). Obesity causes an increase in the secretion of insulin  in response to the increased blood glucose level in the overweight dog. Insulin is also more in demand simply because there is a greater amount of tissue in an overweight dog. When requirements for insulin exceed the ability of the body to produce insulin, diabetes mellitus develops. If the need for insulin increases over a long period of time, the cells in the pancreas which produce insulin can actually ‘burn out,’ again resulting in diabetes.

Damage to joints, bones, and ligaments

***Approximately 25% of overweight dogs develop serious joint complications.***

Studies  have suggested that approximately one-quarter of overweight dogs develop serious joint complications. The bones, joints, muscles, and associated tendons and ligaments all work together to give the dog smooth and efficient movement. If they are required to carry excess weight, they can start to become damaged. Arthritis can develop and the pain and joint changes associated with hip dysplasia can become markedly more severe.

Extra tension on joints caused by an increased weight load can also lead to damage of certain ligaments. Ligaments are tough, fibrous strands of tissue that hold one bone in proximity to another bone in joints. One of the ligaments in the knee, the anterior cruciate ligament, is very prone to strains or tears. If this ligament is torn, the knee becomes very unstable and the dog is reluctant to use it. Surgery must be done to repair this torn ligament.

Certain breeds of dogs, such as Dachshunds are prone to develop intervertebral disc disease (‘slipped disc’). Carrying extra weight increases the probability that they will develop this painful and sometimes debilitating condition.

Read the article in full here.

Courtesy of Dr Foster and Smith, Dr Holly Nash DVM.


A note from TE, Obesity is very serious.  We will not place a puppy with owners we knew could not or would not, keep their puppy at a healthy weight. We are very concerned they would have joint problems as they age.

This is a lack of care on the part of the owner, something YOU CAN control. Unlike genetic issues.