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 your canine companion is overweight, take him or her to the vet for a checkup. Your veterinarian will weigh your dog, conduct a thorough examination to determine your dog's overall health, and then inform you if your dog is overweight based on their breed and build.
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 is of normal weight, you should be able to feel their ribs without a layer of fat covering them. Your dog's chest should be wider than their abdomen, with a noticeable tuck-up from chest to stomach near their waist (see illustration below).
Checkout Your Pooch's Figure
- Overweight dogs usually have no visible waistline and no distinction between the chest and stomach when viewed from the side. See the overweight dog chart below for 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 illness, so if you suspect your dog is overweight, take him to the vet right away. If your vet determines that your dog is overweight and that there are no underlying illnesses causing the weight gain, they will recommend a diet and exercise plan to help your dog's weight return to normal in a safe 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 outdoor playtime once a day. Playing fetch or frisbee can help you and your dog bond while also providing your pup with a fun way to burn off some extra calories.
Diet & Feeding
- Your veterinarian will be able to calculate the exact number of calories to feed your dog at each meal and prescribe a low-calorie diet food to help your dog lose weight. Make sure your dog eats at the same time every day and that you carefully measure out the portions based on their breed's (or size's) ideal weight.
Yearly (or Twice-Yearly) Checkups
- Even when you're sure that there is nothing wrong with your dog, routine wellness exams (physical checkups for your dog) are important. Annual or twice-yearly wellness exams give your vet the opportunity to monitor your pet's weight and spot the early signs of illness so that conditions can be treated before they become more serious.
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.