One of the most common yet overlooked issues in America is its obesity issue. Unfortunately, that problem now applies to our pets as well. Several studies have placed the total percentage of overweight and obese dogs in the US at around the 50% mark.
Why is this an issue? Heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and kidney failure are just a few reasons. The main reason why there are so many obese dogs is simply; owners are feeding them too much and exercising them too little.
Treats, special diets (that are fed too often), and not regularly providing your dog with their required level of physical activity are three of the main reasons why there’s a canine obesity problem in the US.
So, now that we’ve established that there’s a serious problem, how do we go about solving it? What steps can be taken to lower your dog’s chance of contracting one of the countless weight-related illnesses? We cover the answers to all of these questions, and more, in the sections posted below.
Staying Active is Essential
This is without a doubt one of the major reasons why there are so many overweight dogs in the US. If your dog doesn’t receive an optimal amount of exercise (yes, every single day), they will be much more prone to developing weight-related illnesses and health issues.
Most owners make the mistake of thinking that “exercise” for dogs means the same thing as it does for us humans (i.e. going to the gym for hours on end) - but it doesn’t. Making sure that your dog is properly exercised can be as simple as taking your dog for a 15-20 minute walk, playing fetch with them for 10 minutes, or just letting them run around like they’re designed to do (off the leash if possible).
The problem with maintaining a regular exercise schedule for your dog is that it requires time, which is something a lot of pet owners simply don’t have much of (in their day-to-day lives). One solution to this is hiring a dedicated dog walker so that your dog can go on walks while you’re at work. Another solution would be putting your dog in a daycare center (many doggie daycare businesses offer complimentary “playtime” services - which is one way for your dog to get the exercise they need).
You probably already know most of this, but many times owners simply don’t have the time required to be fully engaged with their pets (which is why using a daycare or dog walking service is an excellent option). The other part of the equation when it comes to solving the problem of obesity in dogs is managing their diets (which is what’s covered below).
Top Ways to Manage Your Dog’s Eating Habits
The single most important factor when it comes to managing your dog’s weight is its diet. How much are you feeding it? How many times are you giving it treats? What about table scraps? Does your dog beg a lot? And is that begging truly hunger-driven, or do they know that you’ll give them a treat/food if they beg?
Many variables go into properly managing your dog’s weight and identifying the areas in which you can improve their eating habits. The very first thing that should be focused on is how many times per day you feed your dog, the amount you feed it, and of course how many treats and table scraps you give it.
Analyzing and Altering Your Dog’s Food Levels
Apart from using a dog food specially formulated for managing your dog’s weight-related issues (e.g. Hills Prescription Diet Metabolic Weight Management), the best strategy to employ would be analyzing how much you feed your dog (and whether or not that falls into their optimal caloric baseline/nutritional profile).
Overfeeding is a major problem among dogs of all breeds. Either feeding your dog too much or feeding your dog little amounts (but spread out throughout the day). Both of these scenarios can lead to your dog becoming obese (and developing severe weight-related health problems).
You can start the process by researching dog weight management plans. Another option is to consult with your veterinarian about certain medications that might help your dog’s weight-related problems. However, the two most important aspects of managing your dog’s weight come down to you taking action (i.e. altering their diet and/or increasing the amount of exercise they get).