In North America, obesity is the most common preventable disease in dogs. Approximately 56% of the general canine population is classed as overweight to obese. It's commonly overlooked and has huge consequences.
The biggest issue is that most owners are unwilling to accept that they are "killing their dogs with kindness" and they find it offensive when people (including veterinary professionals) mention that they could increase their dog's lifespan and quality of life by taking their health more seriously.
Canine obesity is truly an epidemic and since they are our best friends, it's worth having an uncomfortable conversation about. Leave your ego at the door. Lets dig into learning about canine obesity and how to take steps to giving your best friend a longer pain-free life span.
OBESITY IN DOGS
What are the Risks of Canine Obesity?
Drastically shortened life span (2+ years)
More likely to develop disease
Increased inflammation & oxidative stress throughout all body systems
Considerably less heat & exercise tolerant
Hip & Elbow Dysplasia
Osteoarthritis & faster degeneration of affected joints
Urinary bladder stones
Anesthetic complications (for dental & emergency procedures)
High blood pressure
Chronic kidney disease
Knee ligament (CCL) injuries & tears
Low thyroid hormone production
Diseased disc(s) in the spine
Symptoms of Canine Obesity
No or barely visible waistline
No palpable rib cage (or have to really try to find it)
Excess body fat
Fat deposits over the base of the tail (looks like a dimple)
Distended abdomen (no or barely any abdominal tuck)
Lack of self grooming
Lack of/or reduced mobility
Body rolls while in motion
Pressure sores on elbows
Difficulty handling exercise & heat
Who Supports BSL?
Other than a few pro-BSL lobby groups, the only organization that actually supports BSL is People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). PETA is an extreme animal activist group that opposes all companion animal ownership. Some of their claims are that "pit bull" type dogs are more likely to end up in the hands of abusive owners, and are therefore better off not being part of the population at all.
PETA's "Position on Pit Bulls"
What are some BSL Alternatives?
As per Justice for Bullies:
Opposing breed specific legislation doesn't mean opposing any dog legislation! Progressive communities are moving towards what we call Responsible Owner Legislation. An effective animal control strategy would integrate the following:
Robust legislation targets known risk factors for dog bites. Bylaws are clear and specific and hold the owner accountable for the behavior of his/her dog. Infractions are associated with fines that escalate until the owner gets the message and changes their behavior. If this doesn't happen and there is a concern for community safety, the ultimate consequence is removing the dog from the home.
Bylaws are not effective unless they are enforced. If a community is truly committed to safety, they will need to invest in trained enforcement officers. When animal control officers are seen in the community and are actively issuing tickets for infractions, people are motivated to be responsible. Along with licensing fees, fines and tickets for negligent owners can serve as a revenue source to strengthen an animal control program.
Animal control officers are not just a punitive force. They can provide support to members of the community and intervene early when they spot potential problems.
Bite Free Education
Successful communities identify those most at risk of getting into an altercation with a dog - for example, children, mail carriers, meter readers, and delivery people. While it is the responsibility of the owner to contain and manage their dog, you can reduce bite risk by teaching people how to read a dog's body language, how to approach them safely, and how to de-escalate a confrontation.
Members of the community must be willing to report dog bites, or problematic behavior. This is easier when strong and fair bylaws exist, because neighbors know that the owner will be held accountable, and the dog won't necessarily be seized or euthanized.
The community can also support programs like subsidized vet care, spay/neuter clinics, and outreach programs that promote responsible ownership and care.
Good bylaws hold owners responsible for their dog's behavior. But if a dog attack were to happen, the onus is on the victim to take the owner to civil court and sue for damages. A shelter, rescue, or breeder is also exempt from liability when they have irresponsibly placed a dog in the community. We believe that a wider conversation needs to take place around these liability issues, holding people responsible for preventable injury and damages and ensuring that victims are fairly compensated.
How Do I Know if my Dog is Overweight?
Most dogs in our community are mixed breed or unregistered so do not have any way to prove parentage/pedigree. We often guess their breed based on coat colour/type and size because people like to think they know what their dog is, and the "reasons" why they behave the way they do ("Oh he doesn't have good off leash skills because of the Husky in him, and the German Shepherd in him makes him bark at strangers too!").
Studies have identified risk for dog aggression - breed is NOT one of them. The genes that make up physical characteristics (short coat, muscular build, etc) are not associated with the genes for intelligence or temperament. A dog that looks like a breed is not guaranteed to act like that breed.
Breed traits to exist, but breeders work very hard to cultivate this consistency across generations by selectively breeding dogs that conform to the breed standard they are striving towards. Even with an amazing responsible breeder working with the best dogs for their breed, each litter will create puppies with differences both physically and mentally - though they should have more consistency than a mutt, there will still be variation between littermates.
Who Opposes BSL?
BSL is not evidence-based and lacks support by reputable academic and professional groups. In face, it is very difficult to find an organization in animal welfare, veterinary medicine, law, or public health that will support these kinds of laws. (1)
The following groups have position statements in favor of breed-neutral legislation:
American Dog Breeders Association, American Kennel Club, American Veterinary Medical Association, American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, Association of Professional Dog Handlers, British Veterinary Association, Canadian Association of Professional Pet Dog Trainers, Canadian Kennel Club, Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, Centers for Disease Control, Certification Council for Professional Dog Handlers, Calgary Humane Society, Humane Society International, Humane Society of the United States, Toronto Humane Society, Ottawa Humane Society, International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, International Association of Canine Professionals, The Pet Professional Guild, ASPCA, BC SPCA, RSPCA, United Kennel Club, etc.
Virtual Puppy Program
3 week Virtual Puppy Program designed to give you the knowledge you need to get your puppy started off on the right track. This course program will give you easy, practical solutions to the most common puppy problems like nipping, jumping, potty training, kennel training, recall, leash walking, home manners, and more.
Members will be able to have an all access pass to our library of training videos and webinars explaining everything from our general ideologies, trick training, canine conditioning, nutrition, general manners, impulse control, and everything in between.
Pay-per-view options will be available for those that don't want to commit to a monthly membership.
Ready to commit to being a Responsible Breeder? Our Breeder Mentorship program is for proteges wanting to learn everything there is to know when starting their own kennel. We will work with you to figure out your core breeding values and goals, as well as a sustainable and realistic plan on how to achieve those things. We will educate you on all things there is to know about responsible & ethical breeding practices - from choosing breeding candidates, proving your dogs in body & mind, marketing your breeding & puppies, puppy rearing practices, choosing homes, preparing your owners, sending your pups off and everything in between. This program is for the highly passionate people that truly want to figure out how to do right by their dogs and breed. If you are local to us you will have the ability to shadow us doing all of the above with our own dogs and puppies.
( All of our Co-Owners get Breeder Mentorship for FREE )