Dog Care 101 Tip #158: Preventing & Treating Canine Obesity
Best Bully Sticks knows that you love spoiling your dog, but you might want to reconsider feeding Fido those table scraps during dinner. It seems that pet obesity is a growing problem in the U.S., a fact made clear by a recent article published by WebMD, which listed obesity among the top five issues facing pets. There are a number of reasons why owners may unintentionally allow their dog to plump up; dogs may not get daily exercise, they could overeat, or they could be eating food unsuitable for a healthy animal diet.
Pet obesity can cause complicated medical problems if left untreated. It’s proven to be a contributing factor to heart disease, diabetes, respiratory problems and bone and joint issues. An overweight dog is not a happy, healthy pet no matter how many treats you give him.
Unfortunately, many people remain ignorant about what their dogs can and cannot eat on a regular basis. This may simply be because dog obesity isn’t a widely covered issue and owners may not think twice about proper dietary and exercise for their four-legged friends. Let’s take some time to recognizing canine obesity and addressing basic preventative methods so you can enjoy your dog’s company for a long time.
How can you tell if your pet is overweight?
Too many owners confuse a fat dog for a healthy one. As stated before, pet obesity is serious business, so if you have any suspicion that your dog is overweight, check for these few key signs.
First, find out your dog breed’s weight range. You can always ask your vet as well. If it’s still questionable,, many vets recommend feeling along your dog’s ribcage. If you can barely feel your pet’s ribs beneath a thin layer of fat, then they are at optimum weight. If you find it difficult to feel your dog’s ribs because their chest is covered by a thick layer of fat, then you might want to change their diet and exercise routines. Some other signs are:
- Fat on the lower back and base of tail
- No "waist" when viewed from above
- Less stamina
- Decreased interest in physical activities
- Difficulty jumping up on furniture or climbing stairs
Dietary issues are the primary cause for pet obesity. However, many owners might not realize that they’re acting outside of proper dietary restrictions when they feed their dogs. For example, often owners feed their dogs an extra bit of food or a special snack of human food out of pure affection. Dogs can suffer from these excesses even though there was no intent on causing harm to their diet. It’s always great to see the wag of your pup’s tail when you pull out the treats, but just because it makes both of you happy, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily good or healthy.
If you suspect that you have your dog on an unhealthy diet, the first thing you should do is calculate how much you feed them on an average day. Spend the next few days measuring the exact amount of food you feed your furry friend, particularly those treats that you give them outside of their normal meals. Usually these treats are the culprits for extra weight gain among most pets—a few small treats a day can add up for any pet. Many veterinarians recommend giving your animals a non-food treat whenever they do something worth rewarding, like some extra playtime, a chew toy, or even a meaningful pat on the head.
Sufficient exercise is also a key factor for keeping your dog healthy and at a normal weight. As an owner, you should take your dog’s exercise seriously if you want them to remain healthy. This doesn’t mean you have to make your pet the next agility champion in order to keep them in shape. Taking your dog out for a daily half-hour walk will ensure that you both get some beneficial cardiovascular exercise. Experts also recommend swimming as an excellent workout exercise for dogs as a way to work their heart and muscles vigorously.
What about you?
How do you combat obesity with your pets?