Although a few extra pounds to snuggle might seem harmless, obesity in dogs is increasing and threatening our four-legged best friends' longevity. Today, we look at the issues involved with overweight dogs, and what owners can do to help their pups.
Is my dog overweight?
If you suspect that your dog may be overweight, you should take him or her to the veterinarian for an examination. Your veterinarian will weigh your dog, conduct a thorough physical examination to determine your dog's overall health, and then inform you if your dog is overweight based on their breed and body type.
Carrying excess weight can be a contributing factor to many serious and painful conditions in dogs. Which is why it's so important to help your dog maintain a healthy weight throughout their lifetime.
If you aren't sure whether a trip to the vet is called for, here are some signs that will give you a good indication of whether or not your dog is carrying extra weight.
Consider Your Dog's Fitness Level
- Overweight dogs often pant even when walking relatively slowly, and may walk slower or need to take more naps than before.
Feel For Your Pup's Ribs
- If your dog's weight is healthy, you should be able to feel their ribs without a thick layer of fat covering them. Your dog's chest should be larger than their abdomen, and there should be a noticeable tuck-up from chest to stomach roughly where their waist should be (see diagram below).
Checkout Your Pooch's Figure
- When viewed from the side, overweight dogs typically lack a waistline and a distinction between the chest and stomach. View the image below to get a better idea of how your dog should appear from the side.
How can I help my dog lose weight?
Weight gain can be a sign of a serious underlying disease, so if you suspect that your dog is overweight, a trip to the veterinarian is essential. If your veterinarian determines that your dog is overweight and that there are no underlying health conditions causing the weight gain, they will recommend a diet and exercise plan to help get your dog's weight back on track in a healthy manner.
Here are a few things that your vet may recommend to help your four-legged friend shed those extra pounds.
- Maintain a regular exercise schedule for your dog, including twice-daily walks and once-daily outdoor playtime. Playing fetch or frisbee can help you and your dog form a stronger bond, in addition to providing your dog with a fun way to burn off a few extra calories.
Diet & Feeding
- Your veterinarian will be able to calculate the exact number of calories your dog should consume at each meal and will be able to recommend a low-calorie diet food to help your dog achieve a healthier weight. Ensure that your dog eats at the same time every day, and that you carefully measure their portions based on their ideal breed (or size) weight.
Yearly (or Twice-Yearly) Checkups
- Even when you are certain that nothing is wrong with your dog, routine wellness exams (physical examinations) are essential. Annual or biannual wellness exams provide your veterinarian with the opportunity to monitor your pet's weight and detect early signs of illness, allowing for the treatment of conditions before they become severe.
If your dog begins following a weight loss plan, visit your vet for follow-up appointments so that your pet's progress can be monitored and dietary adjustments made if necessary
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.