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Did you know that approximately 56% of dogs in the United States are overweight? If you think that more than half of dogs in the US need to lose weight, you may be asking yourself, “Is my dog overweight?”
Knowing what your dog should weigh is important when it comes to containing the tide of obesity. But is obesity bad for a dog and if so, what can be done about it?
Here’s what to do when you have an obese dog.
What are the problems caused by your dog being overweight?
While obesity can create practical problems in dogs, as they are no longer able to fit into their perfect puppy harness and leash set and need a harness for overweight dogs instead, there is a more sobering side of the problem.
Just like humans, obesity can cause serious health complications in dogs. An overweight dog is more likely to suffer from conditions such as:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Immune problems
- Lung disease
Many of these conditions can be life threatening. As the owner of your dog, it is your responsibility to take good care of your pet to ensure that they are in good health at all times.
How to tell if your dog is overweight
Every breed is different and dogs come in all shapes and sizes. However, all breeds have a healthy weight range that will depend on your dog’s age.
There are two ways to find out if your dog is overweight. The first option is to check with the American Kennel Club to find out the ideal weight for your dog.
The second option would be to take your pooch to the vet and have them weighed. Your veterinarian can advise you on whether or not your dog is overweight. You can also examine your dog to make sure there are no weight-related illnesses that could affect him.
Exercise your dog daily
Exercise is important to your dog. You should take your dog on daily walks anyway, but this becomes especially important if your dog is overweight.
If your dog is particularly obese, you need to use caution when moving. Start slowly and gently. Take short, slow walks to begin with, and gradually increase the speed and length of the walk as you begin to lose weight.
Pay attention to the weather while exercising. If it’s too hot, your dog may develop heat stroke or burn the pads on its paws.
It is recommended that your dog get twenty minutes of exercise twice a day. This is not only good for your dog, but also for you.
Talk to your veterinarian about other forms of exercise that might be right for your dog.
Buy the right dog food for obese dogs
You may think that any dog food is suitable for your beloved pet, but just like human food, some dog foods are high in calories and lack many of the nutrients your dog needs to stay healthy. It’s essentially like we’re eating junk food.
Talk to your veterinarian and have them recommend a brand of dog food that is balanced for your dog.
Think about portion control
Just like humans, dogs have a tendency to overeat. Often times, if you feed your dog too much, he will eat too much.
Ask your vet and pay attention to the recommended portion sizes from your pet food manufacturer. If you want your dog to lose weight, you may need to start measuring or weighing their portions.
Try to split meals up
Instead of giving your dog two large meals a day, try breaking up their meals into smaller servings. Three to six meals a day mean your dog will need to burn more calories to digest the food.
This also helps reduce hunger peaks by keeping your pet’s stomach filled all day.
Treats are small, but they add up. If your dog loves treats, you may need to look for alternatives.
You could give your dog small pieces of vegetables, such as carrots, to reward them for good behavior rather than high-carb treats.
Avoid human food
It may seem harmless to give your dog some of your own food, but very often human food becomes heavily processed. It also has a lot more calories than is good for your dog. You should avoid feeding your dog off-the-plate food.
If you stay within the recommended calorie limits for your dog and exercise them daily and you don’t experience any weight loss, visit your veterinarian. You need to do this to rule out any medical condition that is causing the weight gain.
Weight gain could be caused by hypothyroidism or Cushing’s syndrome.
What to do with an overweight dog
If you suspect you have an overweight dog, make an appointment with the veterinarian to have your pooch weighed and examined. If your dog is overweight, you should then put your dog on a diet of healthy, portioned meals.
Exercise is important to maintain a healthy weight. You should limit the number of treats your dog has and stop feeding him human food.
For more great articles on the subject of dogs, check out the rest of the blog.