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Obesity in Dogs

overweight dogIs Your Dog Overweight?

Many pet parents admit that they don’t pay too much attention to their dog’s weight.  The lack of knowledge regarding obesity in dogs can result in serious long term and lifelong effects. In fact, neglecting to help your dog maintain a healthy weight can cause major health issues as well as reduce a dog’s lifespan.

What causes obesity in dogs?

Obesity in dogs can be linked to a few different factors and health conditions.  Extra weight in dogs is often caused by over-consumption or eating too much.  If what a dog is eating is not in proper balance with the amount of energy he expends, then the likely result is weight gain. Furthermore, if a dog regularly consumes a diet that is high in calories or an overabundance of table scraps or treats, that will also cause obesity.  Obesity has also been linked to health issues such as pancreatic cancer, hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease.

How is obesity diagnosed in dogs?

Obesity in dogs is not a one size fits all diagnosis. Diagnosing obesity in dogs is noted by a ten to fifteen percent excess in body weight. Breed standard will indicate what is considered to a healthy weight for each specific breed.  A veterinarian will examine the dog’s ribs, lumbar area, tail, and head to help determine if the dog is overweight or not. 

Chubby puppies and babies of any kind receive a lot of oohs and ahs for their incredible cuteness, but all babies should shed their weight! Health issues resulting from obesity in dogs just like in humans.  The list is long, but here are a few health conditions resulting from extra weight:

  • Respiratory difficulties
  • Cancer
  • High blood pressure
  • Weak immune system
  • Low tolerance for heat
  • Diabetes
  • Decreased stamina
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Liver Disease
  • Heart Disease

Treatment and Prevention of Obesity in Dogs

Diet. 

A healthy diet is imperative to overall good health, which will aid in the prevention of obesity in dogs as well as help shed pounds. A dog’s diet should be high in moisture, protein and fiber alike.

Portions. 

Even healthy diets can become unhealthy if portion sizes are too big. Guidelines for maintaining a healthy weight are listed right on the packaging of your dog’s food.  Your veterinarian can also help tweak those guidelines as needed for maintaining or losing weight.

Treats.

Treats are generally high in calories.  Treats should be given sparingly, especially if your dog is already overweight. There are options for healthier, low calorie treats. You should also consider some of the healthy things you snack on. Dogs love apple slices, lean meats, broccoli, carrots, and even blueberries.  Keep in mind that treats should only account for 5 to 10 percent of your dog’s overall caloric intake.

Exercise. 

Exercise each day will maintain a healthy weight in your dog. Exercise will also help your dog lose weight if he is obese or gaining some weight.  The key is rigorous exercise.  Mild exercise won’t do much to burn energy although any amount of exercise is a start, especially if you are dealing with a largely sedentary dog.  It is recommended that a dog receive up to 30 minutes of vigorous exercise each day. You can break this into two 15 minute sessions if that is more manageable and tolerable for you and your dog. Increasing your dog’s heart rate during the exercise sessions is key.  The result will be weight and loss, strong bones and muscles and an overall happy dog.

Health Care.

Maintaining overall good health, in general, goes hand in hand with regularly scheduled veterinary visits.  One or two visits a year will allow your vet to diagnose and treat all health issues, including obesity.  Failing to maintain regularly scheduled visits can delay proper treatment, which can have lifelong results for your dog, including premature death.

Obesity in dogs is no laughing matter.  Allowing your dog to live his best life includes proper weight management.  This will not only free him from the higher risks associated with obesity, but it will also help him just feel happier and healthier overall. Quality of life should never be compromised due to lack of knowledge or negligence.  If you need someone to step in and help with a daily exercise regime, we can help with that.  Give us a call today!

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