Canine Obesity: The Dilemma of Fat Dogs
Obesity is becoming as severe a problem for dogs as it is for their owners. Studies show that in the last 20 years dogs are steadily catching up to humans in terms of being overweight. It’s estimated that between 25 and 40 percent of dogs are either obese already or will become obese. Pet owners are feeding their dogs too many snacks and not giving them enough exercise, and the problem is becoming epidemic.
Serious Medical Issue
Canine obesity is no laughing matter and is a very serious medical problem. If a dog is overweight, he is more at risk for injuring himself, has too much stress on his vital organs and joints, more susceptible to diabetes and high blood pressure and suffers a greater risk if he needs surgery. For example, dachshunds are prone to develop a slipped disk disease and if the dog is overweight, it can make it even more likely it will not only develop the problem, but it will be even more debilitating than if he wasn’t overweight.
How Can Tell If My Dog Is Overweight?
There is a simple way to judge if your dog is overweight. If you can still feel your dog’s ribs with a slight layer of fat and you can still see that your dog as a noticeable waist and belly region, then he is probably not overweight. However, if there is a heavy layer of fat over the ribs, and his body looks all round and roly-poly and you can’t tell where his waist is, then your dog is most likely overweight. And if your dog has a lot of fat and a protruding stomach, then he is likely morbidly overweight and you have an even more serious issue.
Of course, you need to take into consideration the breed of your dog, as some dog’s bodies are made up differently and this method would have to be modified. In addition, certain breeds are more inclined to gain such as Basset Hounds, Labradors, Beagles, and Collies to name a few.
Your veterinarian can also help you determine if your pet is overweight.
Nutrition for the Overweight Dog
All dogs must get the right amount of fats, oils, proteins and carbohydrates to maintain their health. Even though your dog would need to lower his calorie intake to lose weight, he still has to get enough to maintain his body’s needs.
Overweight dogs still need the proper nutrition to thrive, so you can’t just feed him less or switch over to the supposed diet dog foods without speaking with your veterinarian. These foods are sometimes special prescription products and the portions have to be monitored if the dog is to lose weight, and still maintain the nutrition he or she needs. Another issue is that the diet foods aren’t good for a dog’s skin or coat and if they stay on them too long, they develop a dry, flakey skin and after a while a dog’s metabolism can even adjust to the food and they stop losing weight.
How Can I Help My Dog?
First, just because your dog looks at you with those big soulful eyes doesn’t mean he is actually starving. If you know that you are feeding him a good quality dog food with the proper nutritional standards and in the amounts that your veterinarian has recommended that he is getting enough food.
Check out the calorie count on the snacks that you feed your dog. Treats like Charlie Bears have very few calories compared to others that can contain as much as 100 – 200 calories (or more) per treat. The best treats are all natural like apple slices or carrot sticks. Snacks should only make up only about 10 to 15 percent of a dog’s daily diet.
Exercise is A Good Choice
Exercise is vital to keep any dog healthy whether he is overweight or not. If you provide your dog with a few daily walks and some interactive toys, you both can even lose weight together, which is an added bonus for maintaining your own weight.
Be careful though, if your dog isn’t used to this much activity, you have to gradually build up to vigorous play or long walks just like you would for an exercise program for yourself. Be sure to watch your overweight dog, especially in hot weather to make sure they stay hydrated and aren’t having problems breathing from overexerting themselves.
Just remember, your dog didn’t get fat in one day and you can’t get him thin again in one day either, it takes time. How fast this occurs depends on factors such as the dog’s age, activity level and metabolism.
All in all, obesity in our best friend and pet, the family dog, has become a very serious issue and if we want to keep our pet as long as possible in our lives, we need to be aware of this dilemma and help to prevent our dogs from getting fat.