Overweight dogs may die young

Overweight dogs life spanA new study has shown that being overweight shortens a dog's life expectancy. (Reuters)

Dog owners may want to keep their pooch's weight in check!

Being overweight shortens a dog's life expectancy, a new study has found.

Data on a range of popular dog breeds from across the US showed that dogs that are overweight in middle age have a shorter life expectancy than ideal weight dogs.

Specifically, overweight dogs were found to suffer a reduction in life expectancy of up to ten months compared to ideal weight dogs, researchers said.

Being overweight in middle age can have potentially far-reaching consequences for a dog's life span, highlighting the importance of maintaining dogs at a healthy body weight throughout life.

The research examined the impact of body condition score on the life expectancy of a broad range of popular breeds.

"We saw that overweight dogs tend to have a shorter life expectancy. This was particularly pronounced in five breeds - Labrador, Shih Tzu, American Cocker Spaniel, Golden Retriever and Beagle," said lead scientist Carina Salt, from WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition.

"This is the first reported research of its kind looking specifically at a large number of pet dogs. The findings therefore provide important insights into the risks of being overweight for dogs in the general population," said Salt.

"Being overweight in middle age can have long-term consequences and, depending on breed, mean a reduction in life span of between one and ten months," Salt added.

The research used data on the body condition of male and female neutered dogs aged between 6.5 and 8.5 years from 10 popular breeds.

There were on average 546 dogs per breed and data were collected by veterinarians during consultations across the network of Banfield Pet Hospital locations in the US.

The findings were presented at the WALTHAM International Nutritional Sciences Symposium

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