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Lean Dogs Live Longer

Study looked at 57,000 dogs over 20 years

A retrospective study reported in the January 2019 Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine makes a strong argument for keeping dogs trim and fit.  Researchers at the University of Liverpool in Great Britain looked at over 57,000 middle-age spayed/neutered dogs from 900 American veterinary hospitals.

Study dogs were 5.5 to 9.5 at the start. The dogs’ regular veterinarians classified them as a normal or overweight and researchers predicted longevity using risk and statistical evaluations. Factors like the higher risk of arthritis in heavy dogs and less chance of diseases like diabetes in normal dogs were used.

Lifetime predictions ranged from five months on average for male German Shepherds to 2.5 years longer for male Yorkshire Terriers.

Limitations of the study include that various veterinarians categorized the dogs, possibly using different criteria. In addition, dogs were classified on their weight in middle age. Any effects of being overweight as a young dog weren’t considered. During the 20-year span of the study, refinements were made in classifying body condition scores for dogs, so there could be variation from that adjustment.

Still, the fact remains that for every breed, dogs of normal weight had longer, or were predicted to have longer, lives than overweight dogs.

Report Summary provided by the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine.

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