Did you know that obesity affects more than 50 percent of America’s dog population? If your pooch is overweight, he can develop all kinds of health problems, such as painful arthritis, heart disease, breathing difficulty, diabetes and even bladder cancer. For your dog, the excess weight and the resulting health problems can mean less play time and depression.
Weight gain is the result of an increase in body fat. This is usually caused by eating too much, especially when combined with lack of exercise. But there can be other contributing factors too.
Is my dog overweight?
All dogs have an ideal weight for their size and breed. Your veterinarian will be able to tell you what this is, and show you how to check that your dog is maintaining a healthy weight. Between check-ups, place your hands on his side – are his ribs hard to feel? If so, he is likely overweight.
If your dog is overweight, you may notice some of the following signs:
- Ribs cannot easily be felt when running your hand along your dog’s side
- Loss of an obvious waist
- Collar needs loosening
- Difficulty in walking
- Slow movement
- Shortness of breath
- Bad temper
- Sleeping more than usual
How can I help my dog lose weight?
Weight problems are common in dogs, and can be successfully managed through changes in dog food or a nutrition program. A reduction in calories fed with increased exercise is the most effective way of achieving a healthy weight.
The importance of nutrition
The food your dog eats plays an important role in his overall health and well-being. Balanced nutrition is an essential part of an active, healthy lifestyle. Eating too much dog food, snacks or people food will cause your dog to become overweight, and this increases the risk of conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and breathing problems.
Food plays a very important role in treating an overweight dog. Along with exercise, a low-fat and low-calorie food is essential in helping your dog lose weight and stay fit. Fiber is also a key ingredient since it helps your dog eat less while keeping full.
Once your dog has been overweight, he may be prone to weight gain and should have an ongoing weight-management plan based on good nutrition, exercise and regular check-ups and weigh-ins.
Here are some pet “diets” that can help: