Editor's Note: Obesity is a growing problem for dogs -- according to recent research, over half of all dogs in the US are overweight. Obesity prevention and healthy weight loss for dogs are critical to giving your dog a long, healthy life. Here, veterinarian Dr. Katrina Warren shares her tips for managing your dog's weight.
Nobody wants to hear that their dog is overweight. But if you feel that your pooch is getting a little bit round in the middle there are a few things you should consider:
Is your dog actually overweight?
Of course, the first thing you should do is check that your dog has really put on weight. A simple way to do this is by running your finger across their chest and back. If it’s difficult to feel their ribs or spine then your dog is most likely overweight. Keep in mind that if your dog has a thicker coat, you’ll need to have a closer feel. Don’t stress if you do find your fluffy friend is overweight, as there are many ways to get your dog back into shape in no time.
Why is your pooch overweight?
We know you love your fluffy friend, so just because your dog has put on a little weight it doesn’t mean you’re a bad owner. Your dog could be overweight for several reasons. You might be overfeeding your dog or you may be serving the right portions, however your breed of dog may need more exercise. You may even find that your neighbour is feeding your pet on the sly. There are many reasons for weight gain, which can be easily addressed. All you have to do is find the causes and then alter them to help your dog loose that extra weight.
What are you feeding your dog?
Feeding (portion size) is one of the most important factors to consider if your dog has put on weight. You should ask yourself how often are you feeding the dog and are your portion sizes appropriate for your breed of dog. Remember that every dog is different and will require different doggy food. If you’re not sure most store-bought dog food will have advised portion sizes on the packaging. But it’s also advisable to have a chat with your vet about appropriate dog meals.
Another reason your dog may have put on a few extra kilos could be your extra “love.” So while the portion size at meal times may be right, the extra snacks like bones and leftover food from dinner could be the weight culprit. While rewarding your dog is important a friendly pat can be just as satisfying for your dog as a treat. Also make sure you have a chat with any neighbours that may be giving your dog treats and let them know that your puppy is on a doggy diet.
Keep up the exercise!
What dog doesn’t love going on a walk or fetching a ball? If you keep up your dog’s exercise, your dog will love it and so will their waistline (and yours). While walking is a must dog owners don’t always realise how important play time is, such as throwing a ball or Frisbee. Create a exercise program for your dog, so they are getting at least three good walks a week, as well as some fun play time. Dog parks are also a great place to take your dog. They’ll learn doggy social skills, burn off kilojoules and go home happy. Plus it doesn’t require much effort from you!
But I’m doing everything right
If you look over your exercise and food portions and everything seems right visit your vet to have a chat about other reasons for the weight gain. Some dog breeds are more susceptible to weight gain, such as Greyhounds and German Shepherds. And there are a few medical conditions that cause dog weight gain, however this is less likely.
Helping your overweight dog get back into shape is up to you. So make an action plan for their food intake and the amount of exercise they’re receiving and your dog will be fit and healthy before you know it.
PawClub’s Dr Katrina regularly appears across a number of different platforms and is passionate about helping people enhance the special bond that is shared with pets and currently shares her home with her daughter, Charlotte, a Maine Coon cat called Mr Fox and an adopted Golden Retriever called Riley.
Thanks to Dr. Katrina for sharing her tips for healthy weight loss for dogs. For more tips on giving your dog a great life, get blog updates. Just enter your name and email in the green box at left.
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Photo credit: Jeremy Vandel