Obesity For Dogs

Obesity For Dogs

Probably the most significant nutrition related problem in pet dogs is obesity, which is caused by too many calories and not enough exercise.  It is estimated that 40 percent of dogs in America are overweight.  Obesity can aggravate joint problems, arthritis, and heart disease in dogs.  It could shorten your dog’s life and will definitely decrease his quality of life.  Overweight dogs suffer from many of the same health problems as do overweight humans, including chronic pain and liver disease.  They are likely to suffer from mobility problems and have a hard time catching their breath.  One of the most humane things can do for you dog is to keep him from becoming overweight by feeding him the correct amount of food, limiting treats, and providing plenty of exercise opportunities.

Feed Your Dog Right

Dog food labels typically display charts that show consumers how much to feed dogs based on age and weight.  However, these instructions are suggestions based on averages and may not apply to your dog..  Some vets believe that a dog may not need as much as the dog food label suggests, especially if the doesn’t get adequate exercise. 

A good rule of thumb is to start with the minimum amount listed on the package for your dog’s weight.  For example, the label on the food you choose says to feed 2.75 to 3.5 cups of food to a dog who weights 40 to 60 pounds.  Your dog weighs 50 pounds.  Begin by feed 2.75 cups per day to your dog, preferably divided into two meals.  In other words, feed you 50 pound dog a little less that 1.5 cups in the morning and again at night.  

How To Manage Your Dog’s Weight

If you thing your dog is gaining weight, decrease the amount of food a little, say to 1 cup in the morning and 1 cup at night.  If your dog begins to look too thin, up the amount slightly until your dog maintains a healthy weight, evident by sufficient energy, palpable but not prominent ribs, and a visible waistline. 

Many dogs become overweight simply because they are fed too many treats in addition to their regular meals.  Just a couple of extra treats each day can quickly turn a small dog into a small obese dog; larger dogs are equally susceptible to treat overload and excessive weight gain.  Helping a dog lose weight is as easy as limiting portion size, cutting back on treats, and increasing the daily walk or adding an extra game of fetch in the yard every afternoon.

How Can You Tell If Your Dog Is Obese

With some dogs, obesity is obvious.  They have rolls of fat around their necks; pendulous abdomens; wide, barrel-shaped bodies; and the tire easily.  But every dot is different and every breed is different so it is impossible to have a weight char or quantatative determination of obesity.  What is healthy weight for a Labrador retriever would be overweight for a greyhound. 

Look at your dog.  Does he have enough energy? is he retaining his youthful waistline or is he starting to look like a sausage?  To determine if your dog is at a healthy weight, check the following:  

1.  Ribs-You should be able to feel your dog’s ribs.  If they protrude obviously, your dog may be underweight.  If you can barely feel your dog’s ribs, he may be overweight.  It can be hard to feel the ribs on heavily coated dogs, though.  And highly athletic dogs such as cattle-herding.  Border collies or Siberian huskies running the Iditarod may appear too thin but are actually in excellent shape.  Some breeds such as greyhounds and whippets are naturally lean with a smooth coat that makes their ribs visible even at a healthy weight. 

2.  Waistline-Your dog should have a waistline when viewed from above.  Ann extreme waist tuck with protruding hip bones may mean your dog is underweight.  A sausage shaped or barely shaped body from neck to tail base may mean your dog is overweight.  

3.  Breathing- Your dog should be able to move easily and run around the yard in temperate weather without losing his breath.  (Breathlessness can be a symptom of other heath conditions too, so see you vet if you are concerned.)  Some short-faced dogs such as Pugs, Pekinnese, and bulldogs are less tolerant of hot weather but should be able to exercise in cool weather without becoming distressed.  

4.  Abdomen-Your dog’s abdomen, when viewed from the side, should tuck up slightly from the chest.  A hanging belly is a sign of a weight problem.

General Advice On Monitoring Your Dog’s Weight

It’s important to monitor your dog’s health and make sure weight gain isn’t caused by something other than overeating.  Sudden weight gain, as well as sudden weight loss, can be a sign of a medical problem.  If you suspect your do is overweight, schedule a visit with your vet for a professional opinion and advice on how to treat your dog’s weight problem.  For some dogs (as for some people), too much exercise to fast can cause injury.  Your vet may advise you to start with a weight-loss formula and gradually incorporate more activity into your dog’s schedule. 

Many dogs overeat if allowed unlimited access to food.  This tendency may have its foundation in the gorging behavior of dogs’ wild ancestors, who had to make one meal last several days.  To easily and accurately weigh smaller dogs, first stand on a scale while holding your dog, then weigh yourself alone.  Deduct you weight from the combined weighty of you and your dog.  The result is your dog’s weight.  

Putting It Altogether

In general, monitoring and maintaining your dog’s weight is a difficult task to accomplish.  But if you just pay attention to your dog’s shape, how much he can exercise, manage how much you feed your dog to and when to feed them, and don’t give your dogs treats, you should be able to keep your dog trim and fit.  

Feel free to leave comments at the bottom of this article.  Thank you.

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