Overweight Dogs Live Shorter Lives, Study Finds

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Those extra table scraps you feed your dog not only add pounds to her frame but may also shorten her life.

Researchers from University of Liverpool in England found that dogs who are overweight may have a shortened lifespan up to 2.5 years.

“Owners are often unaware that their dog is overweight, and many may not realize the impact that it can have on health,” Alex German, the co-author and professor of Small Animal Medicine at the University of Liverpool, said in a statement. “What they may not know is that, if their beloved pet is too heavy, they are more likely to suffer from other problems such as joint disease, breathing issues, and certain types of cancer, as well as having a poorer quality of life. These health and wellbeing issues can significantly impact how long they live.”

Related: The Ultimate Weight Loss Guide for Your Dog

The team studied over 50,000 dogs from 12 most popular breeds, including German Shepherds, Yorkies, Golden Retrievers and Shih Tzus. How much of a factor being overweight had on a lifespan depended on the breed, with German Shepherds being the least effected (five months) and Yorkies being the most impacted (2.5 years).

While the study did look at the causes for being overweight, it doesn’t take a genius to realize us dog parents play a role.

“For many owners, giving food, particularly tasty table scraps and tidbits, is the way we show affection for our pets,” says German “Being careful about what you feed your dog could go a long way to keeping them in good shape and enabling them to be around for many years to come.” Exercise is also an important aspect of keeping a trim (and happy) dog.

Related: 15 Breeds That Are Susceptible to Hip Problems

And this obesity problem isn’t a small one; it’s an epidemic. Nationwide, an insurance provider for pets, found that pet obesity is on the rise for the eighth year in a row, with 20 percent of its claims related to obesity and conditions related to the disease. This amounts to $69 million in veterinary expenses.

To prevent your dog from ending extra pounds to her frame, make sure you measure out her food, get plenty of exercise and weigh her to keep track of her weight.

Related: New Report Finds 1 in 3 Dogs in the U.S. Are Overweight

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