Dog obesity is more common than you might think, and it can lead to a slew of medical issues that put canines in danger. Thankfully, managing your dog’s weight is easy as long as you commit to the journey. If you’re willing to feed your dog the right foods and get them lots of exercise, your pup will be fit as a fiddle before you know it!
Is My Dog Overweight?
Ideally, when you look at your dog from above, you should be able to see an outline of your dog’s ribs with a tucked up belly. An overweight and obese dog will have fat that hangs down from their chest and waist. A severely obese dog will have a very round belly and fat deposits at the scruff of their neck.
Some dogs are more likely to be obese than others. Genetics can absolutely play a factor here. Some breeds that often experience obesity in their lifetimes include:
- Golden Retrievers
- Cocker Spaniels
- Basset Hounds
- Scottish Terriers
There are other reasons your dog might be obese. These include:
- Spaying & Neutering
- Lack of Exercise
Why You Need to Watch Your Dog’s Weight
There are many reasons why you want your dog to stay at an ideal weight. They develop serious medical conditions if their weight goes unchecked for too long. Here are 8 disorders commonly associated with obesity in dogs:
- High Blood Pressure
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Kidney Disease
- Heart Disease
- Intra-Abdominal Cancers
- Shorter Lifespan
We know all those things sound scary, but there is good news. There are ways to help your dog start losing weight today. It takes just a little more of your time and effort. Once your dog gets to a healthy weight, you can focus on maintaining.
Cut the Extra Calories
If you haven’t been using a measuring cup to feed your dog, now’s the time to get one. Consistent feeding with same-size portions is important. It helps you know whether you’re giving your dog too much or too little food. Start by getting rid of big meals. Smaller, more frequent feedings will help an obese dog get used to smaller portion sizes. Next, follow the directions on the bag of food you feed your dog. This will offer guidance as to how much of that food is right for your dog’s ideal size. Some dog foods have more calories than others!
Lastly, cut the treats and table scraps. There are lots of calories added when you are feeding your dog snacks and table food. Most vets would say your dog shouldn’t be getting more than 10 percent of their calories from treats.
Keep Getting Your Protein
You want your dog to lose weight, but not muscle. Increased dietary protein can help your dog retain that muscle. Either find a dog food with higher protein or add some lean meat, like chicken breast, to your dog’s commercial food. Of course, before you change your dog’s diet, be sure to consult with your veterinarian. Only they can give you safe guidelines to follow as your dog loses weight.
Exercise is Crucial
It’s all about calories in… and calories out! The “out” happens when your dog exercises. So, try increasing your dog’s activity by 25 percent each day. But we don’t always have a good idea of what good exercise means. According to the VCA, “Walking for weight loss is very different from walking for pleasure. You should aim for a daily brisk 30-minute walk. With this sort of walking, you should break into a slight sweat within a few minutes.”
For overweight dogs, this increase in activity may be tough at first. Therefore, try to walk around the coolest times of day – in the morning and in the evening. Avoid walking during very hot weather, and make sure you let your dog take frequent breaks to smell the roses… among other things! While on one of those breaks, let your dog drink water. We suggest bringing a collapsible bowl and a water bottle for you to sip from and share with your pup.
Your overweight dog might start to dislike going for these rigorous walks. So, be sure to bring enticing rewards such as new toys. Low-calorie treats are also appropriate as long as you count those among their mealtime calories. It’s easy to get too much of a good thing.
One last note: exercise is a wonderful way for you to stay healthy too. Consider exercise with your dog bonding activity that improves everyone’s life and well-being. All this hard work will pay off, and your dog will be able to live their life content and without those secondary effects that result from obesity.