The rising obesity epidemic has been described as a significant health problem affecting both people and their pets.  Obesity is most often the result of too much food, and/or not enough exercise. Statistics say that over 60% of American adults are overweight or obese, and up to 40% of their pets join them in this condition. Yikes!  Furthermore, obesity is the most common nutritional disorder seen in dogs today.


Risk factors for canine obesity include:

1)   Overeating: may be due to the availability and palatability of pet foods, competition for food from other animals present at the time of feeding, begging at the table and receiving high-fat treats all contribute to obesity in dogs. 

2)   Lack of exercise (a parallel trend in humans)

3)   Hormonal Factors

4)   Drugs such as corticosteroids and Phenobarbital that increase appetite.  

5)   Aging: associated with a decrease in lean body mass and metabolic rate, possible medical conditions, and overall reduced activity. 

6)   Genetics: Certain breeds are at greater risk for obesity, including Labrador Retriever, Dachshund, Sheltie, Cocker Spaniel, Beagle, Basset Hound, Cavalier King Charles spaniel, and Cairn terrier dogs.


When considering all of the above factors we must remember that humans are the ultimate risk factor in canine obesity. Canine obesity is a human created phenomenon, since dogs don’t put food in their bowls- we do!  Feeding is a major part of the human-animal bond.  For many dog and cat owners, feeding equals love.  However, by being mindful of this and creating alternate healthier habits, we humans can be ‘retrained’ as well!


Conditions Caused or Complicated by Obesity:

1)   Decreased life expectancy (obese dogs live 2-years less compared with non-obese paired littermates)

2)   Increased incidence of hip dysplasia and degenerative joint disease

3)   Lung and heart disease

4)   Reduced immunity

5)   Exercise and heat intolerance

6)   Increased incidence of pancreatitis

7)   Problems whelping and possibly decreased fertility

8)   Hypertension

9)   Increased incidence of mammary tumours and other cancers

10)                  Diabetes

11)                  Certain skin conditions

12)                  Difficulty to perform surgical procedures on these animals

13)                  Increased morbidity and mortality during and after anaesthesia (many anaesthetics are fat-soluble and so obese animal may take longer to recover from anaesthesia and complications associated with ventilation may occur.)


Determining body condition scoring

How do we determine whether or not an animal is overweight, or more importantly, “obese” for that matter? Obesity can be defined as any animal weighing 15% or more than their ideal body weight. Most commonly, obesity is diagnosed through the dog’s current body weight combined with their body condition score. Body condition score is determined by both visual appearance and by feeling the following areas: ribs, abdomen, abdominal tuck, general figure, tail head, and hips. All areas are examined to determine an accurate body condition score.


Body condition score (BCS) can be broken down by the following criteria:

·      1/5: Emaciated- Ribs, lumbar vertebrae, pelvic bones, all bony prominences evident from a distance

·      2/5: Thin- ribs easily felt and may be visible with no palpable fat, obvious waist and abdominal tuck

·      3/5: Moderate- ribs felt without excess fat covering

·      4/5: Overweight- ribs felt with difficulty, noticeable fat deposits over lumbar spine and tail base

·      5/5: Obese- large fat deposits present over chest, spine, tail base, neck, and limbs

Once we have classified a pet as overweight or obese, what are the next steps? Implementation of a weight loss program is the best way to achieve the desired results for weight loss. The 3 components of a successful weight loss program include a feeding plan, exercise plan, and a monitoring plan.


The Plan

Dietary management first requires a full review of the current food intake – treats & meals (and likely should include consultation with all family members).  With that knowledge, a professional can help you with “weight loss math”.  There are a few different formulas that can be used to calculate the amount of calories needed to lose weight at a healthy pace.  Your dog’s current food should also be analyzed (protein sources, fat content, fibre, carbohydrates, etc.), because simply feeding less of your current food might not do the trick if the food has an inadequate balance of components that will help with weight loss!


Lifestyle management means that exercise is necessary.  Yep, we all know that!  But exercise should be implemented gradually, starting with amounts the patient can comfortably tolerate, especially if other health issues are also present. The main exercise goals are to get the dog moving more and moving faster.  Increasing frequency will burn more calories.  Increasing distance / time will burn more calories.  Increasing intensity will burn more calories.  Therefore a combination of these strategies will work best!


Monitoring is key to success!  There’s a reason why so many weight loss programs for humans have regular check in’s / weigh in’s… because it works! It helps to track success. It helps with motivation.  It helps to course correct (i.e. recalculate caloric needs).  There are three critical times when re-checks are critical to preventing failure of a weight loss program: the very beginning, the very end, and anytime in between when weight loss slows or stops. It is suggested that rechecks are spaced 2-weeks apart.


Sounds simple

Yep, it should be simple, but if it were, then there wouldn’t be an overweight epidemic!  Online information can be confusing.  Sometimes it just doesn’t make sense!  What to feed, how much to feed, what’s a reasonable goal weight, how to exercise, types of exercise, what to expect, what’s normal, what needs to be modified… and more!  These are just some of the questions or barriers that people face when trying to figure it all out for themselves! It can be tough to do it alone and know all that you need to know to make your dog slim and trim.


Who can help?

We can!  The Canine Fitness Centre is thrilled to announce our “Fluffy to Fit” program.  We’ve been working on it for a few months now, and we’d be happy to help you help your pooch to shed those unwanted pounds!


Benefits to the program

You’ll have a coach (or maybe a couple of coaches)!  People that have figured this all out!  You’ll be given information that makes sense and presented at each stage – so as not to overwhelm you with too much information right off the bat!  Your dog will be individually assessed – from a physical perspective by one of our therapists and from a weight loss perspective by one of our weight loss coaches!  Your dog will be treated like family and we’ll be there to help you along this journey!  We promise to be positive and encouraging all the way!  But most importantly, we’ll help you to get your furry buddy slim, trim, & healthy again!


What’s included?


It’s important for us to know your dog before we start him/ her on an exercise program, so your pet will start with a physio session (for current patients at the clinic), or a physio clearance (for new to us dogs).  This will help us to get a physical baseline for your dog and to identify sore joints that might benefit from pre-exercise lasering (great for joint health and pain management)!  You will also receive a counseling session, which includes weighing your dog, taking of measurements, and food calculations.  We’ll help you analyze your dog’s current calorie consumption and you’ll have some homework too (the food & exercise diary).  It’ll be important that you’re honest and accurate!  From there we can make suggestions about diet, calories, & exercise.  But that's not all!  Thereafter we're offering two different packages for water treadmill exercise sessions (see below).  It’s a smoking deal! 

Now, some folks want to come in for as many underwater treadmill sessions as possible, and others can only manage one a week, so we have two different prices depending upon which of these options works best for you:

Physio + Weight Loss Coaching + 5 UWT Pass (plus weigh-ins & continued diet counseling) = $320 (+gst)

Physio + Weight Loss Coaching + Unlimited UWT Pass (plus weigh-ins & continued diet counseling) = $400 (+gst)

Then, for the second month, we'll have a special price for each UWT package alone!


We are so excited about this program and can’t wait to get your pet going from Fluffy to Fit!

We are running this program with the special pricing for a limited time only – May and June… just in time for bathing suit season!  Don’t miss out!  Call now!



Oh!  And we have a big prize for the BIGGEST LOSER! For the pooch that loses the biggest percentage of starting body weight, he or she will receive a one-month unlimited UWT pass (valid for either July or August)!


Got questions? 

Give us a call at 403-204-0823 or e-mail 





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