Obesity and Your Dog

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We love our pets, but SOMETIMES over-feeding food and treats can be unhealthy for our fur-family. With the increasing variety of treats and food, obesity is becoming a more prevalent issue for modern pets.

courtesy of APOP

Is my dog overweight?

Obesity in pets is a growing problem in the US, but how can you tell if your pet is overweight? All pets are different, and owners should always consult their veterinarians on health matters, but there are some guidelines that can help you determine if your dog is overweight. Various pet food manufacturers have developed different visual charts to help determine pet body conditions.

Issues caused by obesity

Your dog’s health can be negatively impacted by extra weight. According the the AKC, Dogs who become obese are more likely to develop: Type 2 Diabetes, Osteoarthritis, high-blood pressure, Orthopedic issues, skin diseases, Heart and Respiratory diseases, and even a decreased life expectancy (up to 2.5 Years)

Methods for Managing Weight

Much of the weight loss methods utilized by humans can be applied to your canine. As with any health regimen, it is important to tailor physical activities to the age and energy requirements of your particular dog/breed. If you determine your dog to be overweight, some basic tips to get the weight loss process started are:

Properly Measuring Meals: Guidelines available on the back of most high-quality dog food brands are a good place to begin, but they are GUIDELINES, and may not exactly correspond to the metabolism and activity level of your dog. Make sure you are properly reading the labels/instructions for your brand of food, and adjust according to your dogs individual needs. Dogs with more sedentary lifestyles will usually require less food than highly active dogs. Remember that high-protein kibble is calorie dense and therefore much easier to over-feed your pet on them.

Schedule Feedings: Dogs who need to lose weight benefit from scheduled feedings as opposed to free-feeding. Establish a schedule that works for your lifestyle and your dog, and pick up any uneaten food once they have stopped eating.

Diet Food: Some dog food brands carry foods and supplements that can aide in dieting. If your dog does well on the brand that they are eating, try researching if there are lower-calorie or “weight-management” versions of the food they are on.

Low Calorie Treats/Chews: While edible chews can be beneficial for dental health and behavior, it is important to consider the caloric contribution they make to your dog’s diet. Sometimes, chews can have more calories than one would consider, and it can be helpful to give your dog small servings of their chew, or limit the amount of chews received all together.

Brands are increasingly incorporating low-calorie treats into their product selection, but low-calorie treats can also include fresh fruits and vegetables deemed safe for canine consumption. Remember, treats should never make up more than 10% of your dogs diet.

Exercise!: When it comes to exercising our dogs, we often think of running or walking. While these are the most direct ways to get your dog moving, there are some other options to get them on their feet! For older dogs who may have joint issues, swimming can be an excellent low-impact way to get them moving. Puppies and Adult dogs can greatly benefit from hiking, fetch, and dog-daycare programs.

Author: Victoria McDonald Sources: American Kennel Club, VCA Hospitals, ASPCA

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