Is your canine companion a little too round? Here’s what you can do to help them return to a healthy weight. It might seem like the ultimate sign of a healthy dog is a massive size. However, there's a fine line between a dog being healthy and being overweight or even obese.
Sure, you want Buster to look healthy and well-fed. You love it when people express surprise at such a big dog being only a few months old.
It might seem like the ultimate sign of a healthy dog is a massive size. However, there's a fine line between a dog being healthy and being overweight or even obese.
How to tell if your dog is overweight
In the US, almost 60% of dogs and cats are overweight. So, you’re not alone. This is a rather unfortunate reality for dog owners in the states.
It negatively impacts the life of a dog in several ways. Several diseases are associated with excess weight in dogs, such as arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, and even respiratory diseases.
Your bathroom scale will not help you figure out your dog's weight. To get an exact figure, you might have to go to the vet.
A more qualitative test will just tell you whether or not your dog is overweight, underweight, or at an ideal weight. The best part? All you need are your eyes and your hands.
Here's how you can figure this out –
Check out the side of your dog. Their tummy should be tucked up from their chest, with no evidence of it hanging.
Go ahead and look at it from above. From this angle, its hip should be curved inwardly nicely without showing protruded hipbones. If there's no curve, chances are it's overweight.
You’ve got to be honest with yourself. It might sound mean, but if your dog looks like an overblown balloon with legs sticking out of the side, well, they are overweight.
You could also feel your dog’s side to figure out its weight situation. This gives more information because sometimes a dog might be underweight but you wouldn't know just by looking at it as its heavy fur might hide this fact.
Try to feel your dog’s sides. If you’re assaulted with the feeling of bony ribs, then it's probably underweight. Slight padding over the ribs indicates it's at a good weight. If you can feel no rib despite pressing (not too much to hurt them), then they’re likely overweight.
Ultimately, an overweight dog has ribs, hipbones, a spine, and a waist that are not easily felt or seen. There are also deposits of excess fat all over their body.
How does being overweight affect a dog?
Decreased quality of life
Dogs are active animals. Running around and playing frisbee is a perfect day for them. Being overweight significantly affects their ability to play. Running around could make breathing difficult for them. Also, the extra fat could make them hot, resulting in an irritable dog.
This deserves a separate mention because admirable endurance and stamina are some of the perks of being a dog. An overweight dog loses these abilities and could get frustrated. A frustrated dog results in a frustrated owner.
Other health concerns
Obesity isn't bad for just humans. It also greatly affect canines. Health conditions that could occur because of obesity in dogs include –
Ø Potential damage to joints and bones due to tension from all that extra weight
Ø Diabetes Mellitus
Ø Heart disease and high blood pressure
Ø Decreased liver function
Ø Issues with the digestive system
Ø Lowered immune function
Ø Skin and fur disease
Ø Increased risk of cancer.
Why do dogs become overweight?
The commonest reasons for these include overfeeding and a distinct lack of exercise. You'll be surprised, but beyond the obvious reasons, there are numerous other reasons why a dog could pile on the weight. This includes age, breed, lifestyle, hormonal imbalances, and neutering.
Neutering is worth mentioning again because of the controversy surrounding this. While some people believe it causes weight gain in dogs, others disagree.
The truth is, the actual process of spaying or neutering does not cause a dog to gain weight. However, it can affect their activity levels, resulting in them becoming much less active. Then, they are less likely to burn calories leading to weight gain.
Are you ready for Buster to get in shape and shed the extra pounds? If yes, read on!
Getting your dog started on the path to a healthier weight
Indiscriminately feeding your dog the wrong food contributes greatly to weight gain in him. Cut down on these and stick to an appropriate diet.
Such a diet for dogs is often nutrient-dense and filled with ingredients that keep them satisfied, thereby, reducing hunger.
A few other tips here include –
ü Find out the exact calorie requirement of your dog and go slightly below it. This creates a calorie deficit that results in weight loss.
ü Cut down on the treats you give them. Enough of the human food from the dinner table, stick to dog foods.
ü If you must give them treats, single-ingredient treats, especially fresh veggies and fruits such as baby carrots, apples, and cucumbers work great here.
ü Replace their favorite foods with low-calorie alternatives. For instance, give them plain canned pumpkin (5 calories per tablespoon) in place of peanut butter that has almost 100 calories for the same quantity.
ü Break their meals into smaller portions served throughout the day. This keeps their insulin levels stable and boosts their metabolism so they lose weight more.
No-brainer, right? Dogs are naturally active. However, the extra weight could make them a lot more relaxed here. Change this.
Start with more regular walks around the neighborhood. Eventually, add running and jumping hurdles or even playing catch. Swimming is also a great way to burn calories in dogs.
Running will give you the quickest results. A 20-pound dog could lose up to 75 calories with 1 hour of running.
Losing weight is one thing, maintaining a healthy weight is a whole other ball game. This requires more than the efforts of your dog. Your entire family must decide to get lifestyle adjustments that will ensure your dog eats healthier and is more active.
A trip to the vet
Not for liposuction! Just to rule out the possibility of a health condition being responsible for their weight gain.
If the vet determines that it is caused by a health condition, they can take appropriate action to treat this condition. Otherwise, they will give you advice on how to manage your dog’s weight.
Hopefully, you've got an idea of how to deal with an overweight dog. As a responsible dog owner, you must help them get in shape.
The tips listed above will help you greatly. Implement them and eventually, you will see results and your dog will be a happier, healthier dog.