Canine Obesity


Norwich Terriers are relatively easy to overfeed. They are always at your feet when food is being prepared. Don't be fooled by them telling you they are starving! The main causes of canine obesity are overfeeding and insufficient exercise. Owners should be aware that maintaining fitness and agility, just like for humans, is very important for a beloved pet.Many veterinarians believe canine obesity is the greatest health issue facing our pets. Studies now indicate that obesity can reduce a dogs lifespan by 3 years less then fit dogs!


The following health concerns may occur as a result of obesity:


  • Joint or locomotion difficulties ... Extra pounds put added stress on joints, bones, ligaments and muscles. Conditions such as arthritis, hip dysplasia, disk disease and ligament ruptures may be caused or aggravated by obesity.
  • Heart and Respiratory Disease ... Heart and lungs have to work harder to provide adequate oxygen and circulation. Also, extra fat in the chest cavity and around the heart muscle can decrease the efficiency of the heart and lungs.
  • Diabetes ... Just like people, diabetes is much more common in obese dogs and cats.
  • Liver Disease ... Obese animals are prone to liver disease.
  • Heat Intolerance ... Insulating properties of excessive fat make obese animals uncomfortable and unable to tolerate heat.
  • Skin Problems ... Obese animals often have trouble grooming themselves. The rolls of skin built up by fat deposits can often harbor dirt, bacteria and other harmful organisms.
  • Gastrointestinal Disorder ... Pancreatitis is seen all too often in obese dogs. This condition is painful and life threatening.


Obesity in dogs is totally controllable by responsible owners when you consider that we control everything that goes into their mouths. The cause of obesity is simple: Intake of dietary energy exceeds expenditure of energy. Unless there is a medical reason, there is really no excuse for morbid obesity in a dog.


How do I check if my dog is overweight?


Correct weight has everything to do with body type.  Norwich, according to the written standard should weigh 10-12 pounds (5 kg). However some body types carry more weight and some less.


To evaluate your dog's weight, the abdomen should be tucked up when the dog is viewed from the side and a prominent "waist" visible behind the ribs when the dog is viewed from the top. Place your hands on either side of your dog's chest. Individual ribs should be easily felt but not seen. If the ribs protrude or are visible, your dog is too thin; if pressure is required to feel the ribs, your dog is overweight.

My dog is too fat what do I do?


Remember that dieting alone will not ensure that your companion will lose weight, but it is THE most important part, probably 3/4 of the solution! The other component is exercise. Combining a good 20 minutes a day of exercise, walking, running, swimming, playing fetch are good ways to get the exercise needed. However, being left in the yard to play is NOT exercise! While you may prefer to change the food your dog eats to something less caloric I would suggest that you don't change the food but rather feed less. Simply reduce the amount by 1/3 per feeding and in two weeks you should see some weight loss...provided you are also exercising your dog. If you don't see any weight loss in two weeks you can reduce the daily feeding by a third again. The greatest failure in dieting dogs is with giving dog cookies that are often highly caloric. Instead substituted dog cookies for a healthy alternative like a piece of carrot or other vegetables.


Lets recap...If your dog is fat:


  • Reduce the amount of food you are giving him.  You control the food, not your dog.
  • Add some exercise to his life a few times a week.
  • Choose healthy alternatives for snacks.


The end result is a happier, healthier companion dog with a higher quality of life for a longer period of time.