Help Dog Obesity with CBD
Obesity is a growing international health crisis for humans. People have been getting heavier and heavier. It is causing humans a lot of avoidable health problems!
The rates of pet obesity have been skyrocketing as well - it’s now estimated that more than half of all domestic animals are at least overweight.
What do you do if YOUR dog is overweight or obese? How can you help?
What Is Obesity?
Obesity is a chronic health disorder that involves excess fat accumulation in the body.
Human obesity is measured by BMI. BMI stands for body mass index. It is measured in units of kg/m2, which means that it requires height and weight for the calculation. Basically, it is body mass divided by the square of the body height.
Accurate measurements for determining BMI may be taken at home, and free online calculators are available. Talk to your doctor for personalized information.
Being overweight in humans means having a BMI (body mass index) of 25 to 29.9. Being obese is a BMI of 30 or higher.
For a dog, excess weight is not measured the same way. A scale called the Body Condition Score (BCS) is used. The BCS is a nine- point scale developed by Purina in 1997 to help give owners and veterinarians the tools to discuss pet obesity.
Generally speaking, according to the BCS a score of one is sickly and malnourished and starving to death. A score of nine describes a dog uncomfortably full of fat deposits and unable to move without significant trouble.
Most dogs are healthy right in the middle of the BCS, at a 4 or 5. Dogs at a 5 have ribs and vertebrae you can feel but not see. You can see their waist nipping in behind their ribs.
Your veterinarian should be able to assess your dog’s body condition during a brief yearly exam. He will let you know if your dog is over or underweight.
What Are The Health Risks Associated With Being Obese?
There is a huge increase in your risk of developing health problems associated with obesity. Your dog’s weight can also be at the root of some of his major health concerns.
Heart disease is a common chronic health condition for both humans and pets alike. Heart disease can be congenital (which means your dog was born with it) or acquired (which could mean it is due to lifestyle factors such as obesity).
Heart disease could be due to unhealthy heart muscle, narrowing of the blood vessels that pump blood around your dog’s body, or physical abnormalities in the valves. It could lead to congestive heart failure, or the heart's inability to function properly.
High blood pressure could be related to heart disease because it is a sign your dog’s heart is working harder than it should.
Overweight and obese dogs have a higher likelihood of developing high blood pressure, which can lead to bigger heart-related problems as he ages. It could also lead to heart attack and stroke.
Being diagnosed with respiratory illnesses, like kennel cough and pneumonia, could be more likely in obese dogs.
Cancer is the abnormally fast growth and division of abnormal cells. These cells clump together to form a mass called a tumor. Cancer can destroy healthy tissue and wreak havoc on the patient's body.
There are over 100 types of cancer and some of them have been directly linked to obesity (particularly cancers of the mammary glands and urinary tract).
Diabetes is another chronic condition that can be linked to obesity. When a dog is diabetic, his pancreas can not produce enough insulin to moderate his blood sugar.
Insulin is a hormone that helps glucose (the energy from his food) get into your dog’s cells to be used to fuel his activity. If your dog is diabetic, his body can’t properly process his food, which can lead to a seriously decreased quality of life and development of long-term health problems.
If your dog has arthritis or other orthopedic problems, he is experiencing inflammation and pain in his joints. Arthritis can be caused by illness, normal age-related wear and tear, or underlying diseases.
Overweight or obese dogs put more pressure on their joints - especially those in the hips and knees - and are more likely to develop arthritis.
Obese dogs could have a significantly shortened lifespan. Up to two and a half years could be lost due to obesity!
Increased financial costs related to more frequent vet visits, expensive tests, and prescription medications are also common complaints in overweight dog ownership.
Is Obesity Preventable? Is It Treatable?
The best news is that obesity is mostly preventable! Unless it is due to a gland or hormone problem (which can be treated by a veterinarian) obesity is primarily due to easily changeable lifestyle factors!
Changing your dog’s diet and exercise habits may not be easy at first, but it is well worth the trouble. Significant health risks (disease, disability, and shortened lifespan) can be lessened and quality of life can dramatically increase.
In order to take charge of your dog’s health and help him shed a few of those excess pounds, talk with your veterinarian.
He may suggest things like:
Feed your dog an optimal diet for his breed and body type. This may mean choosing a different dry food or supplementing with human food. Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, small amounts of complex carbohydrates like beans and quinoa, and lean meats can help.
Try and avoid giving him too many fun treats, as (much like human treats) they are largely devoid of nutrition but high in calories and fat.
Many owners overestimate the amount of food their dogs need; overfeeding can cause obesity. Many dogs will continue eating past the point of being full. Your dog’s daily calorie needs can fluctuate due to age, with increased activity level, or during pregnancy.
It is important to have a baseline amount to refer to when feeding. Check with your veterinarian for recommendations.
Avoid leaving your dog with constant access to food. Discourage constant grazing. Establish routine meal times and offer food for a shorter period of time. Watch how your dog responds to food during these meals - it could give you insight on how much he really needs.
Regular exercise and easy access to the outdoors will keep your pet moving and using calories more efficiently. Unless your dog has been put on a vet-recommended exercise ban, getting up and going to play may be the best way of encouraging your dog to maintain a healthy weight.
Running, hiking, swimming, and playing games are all good ways of getting exercise in (for both of you!) and bonding with your dog.
Proper equipment, such as a strong lead and a comfortable harness for him and good shoes for you, can make it easier to be active with your pet.
Make sure to offer him plenty of water regardless of the temperature.
Weighing your dog on a regular basis can help keep you accountable and ensure your efforts are moving your pet in the right direction.
Of course, in an ideal world there would be a ready-made formula for immediately improving your dog’s health conditions. Losing weight would be easy and fast and permanent.
Unfortunately there is no one-size-fits-all fix. Every dog needs a unique plan tailored to his lifestyle (and yours!), while taking into account the need to control and treat his specific health concerns.
Your vet will be able to discuss many options with you. The best plan will be multi-layered, sustainable, and easily implemented. It should include diet and exercise, as well as addressing any underlying health conditions that may be causing weight gain (like endocrine disorders).
A daily multivitamin may be recommended, as well as some supplements that may mitigate the potential damage done to your dog’s body by being obese. L-carnitine, fish oil, B complex, and magnesium may be suggested.
What Is CBD?
CBD, or cannabidiol, has seemingly been mentioned everywhere lately. You may have noticed discussions on its use on social media, in the news, or amongst your friends. You may even use CBD oil yourself!
CBD is a complex chemical compound found in the leaves and stems of the hemp plant. Hemp is a close cousin to marijuana but does not contain nearly enough THC to cause a psychoactive high.
The cannabidiol is extracted from the hemp plants, isolated to remove impurities, and suspended in alcohol.
The CBD in your products interacts with a highly-specialized set of cell membrane receptors in your nervous and digestive system. This system is called the endocannabinoid system, or the ECS.
The ECS is partially responsible for helping your body to maintain homeostasis. That means your body’s internal systems continue to function properly regardless of the external environment. Your dog’s body, for instance, can maintain its core temperature even in freezing winter.
Every animal has an ECS that functions the same way, so they all respond to CBD in predictable ways. There are very few side effects, and they are mild : nausea and sleepiness are the most-often reported symptoms.
CBD has been linked to an overall positive trend towards optimal health and wellness in both pets and humans.
CBD is safe and legal for your dog to use. There is no potential for overdose or developing a chemical dependency or addiction.
Using CBD To Treat Obesity
CBD can be used in many ways to help your dog through the process of losing weight and becoming healthier.
- Decrease the inflammation and pain in his joints, especially if they have been negatively impacted by his weight, while he begins to exercise more
- Reduce nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting due to abrupt changes in type or amount of food offered
- Decrease and regulate appetite
- Permanently alter his metabolism in order to burn calories more efficiently and maintain a healthy weight once reached
- Normalize digestive function to ensure his body is absorbing the most nutrition it can from his food
- Help regulate his blood sugar levels
- Help his body maintain healthy cardiovascular function, including decreasing blood pressure and heart rate
- Decrease the wear and tear on his joints and muscles and decrease recovery time after athletic activity
- Increase his energy levels, allowing him to be more active
To ensure your dog’s safety and health, it is important to buy a pure, high-quality CBD oil product. Impurities and certain additives could be toxic to your dog.
It can be difficult for a new CBD user to understand the jargon used in growing hemp and manufacturing the products you see. A little research can go a long way towards improving your understanding.
The first thing you need to decide on before buying is the form of CBD you wish to use (or administer to your dog).
CBD can come in many forms, including:
- Tinctures, which is CBD suspended in alcohol. It is usually administered by a quick spray to the inside of the cheek or sublingually (which means held under the tongue before being swallowed).
- Oils, which are used by direct ingestion (some people say they taste earthy, like grass and dirt) or by mixing into food or drinks. CBD is often suspended in carrier oils to make ingestion easier. Carrier oils commonly used include coconut, hemp, and avocado.
- Pills filled with CBD powder or gel caps filled with oil. These can eliminate the need to measure the CBD dosage - it is a simple calculation with no risk of fluctuation- and they may be easier to give your dog because there is no flavor.
- Edibles are common. These include gummy candy for humans and treats and snacks for dogs. They are easy to get your dog to eat, but may contain lots of extra calories that could set back your efforts to control his weight.
- Beauty and hygiene products, such as lotions and massage oils for aching muscles. These may also contain herbs and Epsom salts to encourage faster muscle recovery and relaxation.
- Vape pen cartridges that may contain THC or nicotine. These are not suitable for use in pets.
Thanks to their swift uptick in popularity, CBD oils are readily available online.
To make sure you buy the safest product you can find, there are a few basic guidelines to follow.
- Buy CBD oil made with USA-grown hemp. The United States has strict growing regulations, which promote a purer, higher-quality product than some of those bought from overseas.
- Organic CBD oil products may be lower in pesticides and toxic chemicals than oils made with conventionally grown hemp.
- Check the product information page and the package label to make sure the information is correct.
- Doses are not universal. How much you take depends on your dog’s weight (or yours), age, and physical health status. Dosing information should also take into account the concentration is CBD in that particular product.
- Pet and human CBD oil should contain the same active ingredient (at similar concentrations) but may have different additives. Some human-safe additives are not pet safe. Certain essential oils are an example of unsafe additives to feed your dog.
- Make sure to check an independent lab analysis on any product you wish to buy. This will tell you the exact concentration of CBD, the amount of THC present (it should be less than .3%), and any impurities or additives.
- The company you wish to buy from should appear professional and have a good reputation for quality. Customer service contact information, a secure payment system, and a wide base of available products.
It may be handy to keep a record of your dog's progress. Track his activity level, his food intake (along with noting any additions, like human food or canned food), and the treatments applied. Make sure to include the doses of CBD you give him.
If you need a recommendation, ask around! Your pet care professionals (groomers, vet techs, and trainers) and your fellow pet owning friends may have advice and suggestions.
A quick Google search may turn up a place to shop locally. Go and look around and check out the array of products there. You may even be able to find someone to answer your questions in person.
It is also imperative that ANY abrupt changes in your dog’s temperament, behavior, or physical appearance are immediately brought to your vets attention. These changes could be a warning sign of major medical emergencies, like congestive heart failure. It is absolutely essential that you inform your veterinarian that you intend to use CBD oil for your dog. CBD could inhibit the creation and function of a specific liver enzyme that plays a major role in metabolizing prescription medicines. If your dog is on one of these medicines to control a health condition, CBD could render it useless and your dog could suffer as a result.
Your dog may be cute and pudgy with his adorable waddle and jiggly parts, but being overweight or obese can be very unhealthy for him.
With some concentrated attention and effort on your part - and a lot of play time on his! - your dog can be healthy, fit, and trim for the rest of his (very long!) life!
Sources:Role of Cannabinoids in Obesity
Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs
Potential Effects of Cannabidiol as a Wake-Promoting Agent
A Peripheral Cannabinoid Receptor 1 Antagonist
CBD Use in Pets