Obesity can be a serious health issue for your loyal canine companion. Overweight dogs, much like humans, are prone to health problems like high blood pressure, liver problems, heart problems, and canine diabetes. Because of this, managing a dog’s weight is key to ensuring they have good quality of life as they age.
How to tell if your dog is overweight
There are certain markers which you as a dog owner can watch out for to see if your dog is overweight:
- Difficulty feeling your dog’s ribs.
- A more rounded body shape for the breed.
- A sagging waist that sits lover than the chest.
- Shortness of breath with light exercise.
In addition to the markers above, your dog’s veterinarian can also let you know if your dog is overweight based on your dog’s size and breed. The American Kennel Club has a more comprehensive list that can help owners identify if their dogs are overweight.
What can make your dog overweight
While there could be a number of medical conditions that are the reason behind your dog being overweight, the primary cause of overweight dogs is overeating. Different dog breeds have different nutritional requirements which not all owners may be aware of as noted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. Because of this, overfeeding a dog is more common than most people think.
A sedentary lifestyle also contributes to dog obesity. The combination of no activity and an excess in consumed calories make sure that everything your dog eats turns into unhealthy fat.
Much like humans, a dog’s weight is best controlled by paying attention and controlling what they eat. Make sure to give your dog just the right amount of food during mealtime and stick to a diet plan.
Watching what your dog eats also means making sure they eat healthy food. Good dog food for overweight dogs will have the right amount of fiber, protein, and calories to keep your dog active, but not obese
Making the decision to give your dog healthier meals also means that you have to avoid feeding them leftovers. A balanced diet means different things between dogs and humans, and feeding your dog leftovers may mean that they end up eating ingredients in amounts safe for humans, but definitely unhealthy for dogs.
One way to avoid overfeeding is giving your dog low-calorie chews. For example, cow ears are lower in fat than pig ears and are a great chew for overweight dogs when given in moderation. Similarly, chicken jerky is a leaner protein than beef and provides a similar flavor and texture with less fat. Antlers are another popular chew as they have a high protein to low fat ratio and are heavy-duty to last a long time.
Remember, when treating your dog treats should only account for less than 10% of their total caloric intake. With this in mind, try to limit the amount of treats you give your dog on a daily basis, or look for treats that are lower in calories.
Owners who live an active lifestyle may find it easier to get their dogs on the road to a healthy weight. Finding time for exercise plans for overweight dogs may be as simple as taking your dog along with you when you go out for a walk.
Of course, there are things to consider when getting an overweight dog to lose some weight. You wouldn’t be able to complete a marathon without the proper training and conditioning, so don’t expect your overweight dog to pull off challenging physical activities from the get-go.
Start with smaller walks and get your dog used to going out. After a day of rest, you can start increasing the distance and pace to a level just above slightly comfortable for your dog. Make sure to keep them hydrated during exercise sessions.
Also, don’t forget to make exercise a fun activity that your dog can look forward to. The right treat and a promise of new sights and sounds are usually more than enough to get your dog excited for exercise.
Deciding to be more involved in your dog’s health is the primary factor that will help your dog lose their extra weight. But making sure your dog stays a healthy weight takes more than just educating yourself and committing to daily exercise.
Much like humans, every dog is primarily affected by the family it lives with. By involving your family members when it comes to your dog’s health, you can ensure that your dog will have a safe environment without the risk of unhealthy food being sneaked into their diet.