More than 50% of dogs are overweight, according to a study conducted in 2011. Dogs are considered overweight if they weigh 15% more than their ideal weight and obese if they weigh 30% above the recommended figure.
This excess weight puts a strain on the dog’s body and increases his or her risk for different diseases. In some cases, the obesity exacerbates a dog’s existing medical conditions. On top of that, overweightness and obesity can make daily activities challenging and uncomfortable for your dog.
It’s important to recognize if a dog carries excess pounds, so that you can resolve the problem through a proper weight loss plan. If you suspect that your dog is overweight or obese, you can refer to this dog weight calculator to check. Your dog’s condition is evident in his or her rib coverage; you should be able to feel your dog’s ribs, and he or she should have a waist when viewed from above. Otherwise, your dog might be overweight or obese.
The Reason Behind the Extra Pounds
Obesity among dogs develops in much the same way as with their human counterparts, which is by eating too much and exercising too little. You might be giving your dogs snacks and table scraps that contribute to their weight gain.
Genetics also play a part in gaining extra pounds. A 2007 study published in the Journal of Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics says that some breeds are more predisposed to obesity than others. These include:
- Cairn Terriers
- Basset Hounds
- Cavalier King Charles and Cocker Spaniels
- Shetland Sheepdogs
- Labrador Retrievers
Conversely, some breeds are less likely to carry excess weight. A 2006 study published in the journal Waltham Focus notes that greyhounds and various sheep-herding breeds are somewhat resistant to obesity.
Age also affects the development of overweightness or obesity. As dogs age,their lean body mass and total energy needs decline. Their food intake, however, rarely decreases. This would explain the higher prevalence of obesity among older dogs.
How Overweightness and Obesity Affect Your Dog
Overweightness and obesity bring discomfort to your dog. Daily activities become challenging, and he or she may even become unwilling to exercise. Excess weight can also lead to health issues, such as:
- Heart Disease – Overweight and obese dogs have a higher risk for heart diseases because their hearts have to work harder. They’re also at a higher risk for hypertension, which develops in 23% to 45% of obese dogs, according to a 2010 study published in the journal Preventative Veterinary Medicine, as well as the 2007 Journal of Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics Research.
- Diabetes – Overweight and obese dogs can develop insulin resistance, similar to the metabolic syndrome of people. This increases their risk for diabetes.
- Orthopedic Diseases – Excess weight strains dogs’ joints and cartilage. This can reduce mobility and cause orthopedic disorders, such as osteoarthritis, osteochondrosis, and osteochondritis, to develop early.
- Respiratory Diseases – Obesity is a risk factor for tracheal collapse in small-breed dogs. It can also exacerbate asthma, laryngeal paralysis (a condition where the muscles in the airway don’t function properly), and brachycephalic airway obstruction syndrome (a condition where airway abnormalities occur and prevent proper breathing).
Additionally, excess fat can cut off years from a dog’s life. Lean dogs usually outlive their heavier counterparts by 6-12 months. Additionally, a 2005 study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association found that Labrador retrievers who were fed according to a diet lived 1.8 years longer than retrievers who ate without restraint.
Pay Attention to Your Dog’s Weight
With your dog’s health at stake, it’s important to watch your dog’s weight. It may be difficult to resist the urge to share random treats with your dog, but following a healthy meal and exercise plan will keep your dog energetic and give him or her a long and healthy life.
If you suspect that your dog is overweight or obese, consult your vet for a diet and weight loss plan. Here are other ways that can keep your dog’s weight in check.
- Schedule Exercise
As in humans, exercise burns off your dog’s excess calories and keeps obesity at bay. The amount of exercise your dog needs depends on his or her age, breed, and weight. As a rule of thumb, your dog should spend between 30 minutes to two hours on physical activity every day.
Breeds in the hunting, working, or herding groups (such as Labrador retrievers, hounds, and shepherds) usually need more extensive and longer exercises. Meanwhile, short-nosed breeds like bulldogs and dogs in the toy group, like chihuahuas and shih tzus, don’t need a lot of daily exercise — a nice, long walk is enough.
When it comes to exercising, you don’t have to take your dog on long hikes or tomarathons. Regular walking and running will do. Give your pet a chance to run and play in an off-leash environment. Create a stimulating environment indoors, as well, so your dog will move more often.
If your dog is overweight or obese, your vet would recommend increased physical activity to reduce his or her weight.
- Feed Your Dog the Proper Food
It’s important for pet parents to monitor their dog’s food intake to make sure they are not overeating. Ask your vet about the proper amount of food you should feed your dog to shed the extra pounds. Establish a fixed mealtime to avoid overfeeding your dog.
Additionally, there are certain foods you can feed your pet to help them get back to a healthy weight. Our 95% Premium Meats canned food, for instance, is like the Atkins Diet for your dog. This option:
- Contains high-quality protein meats and ULTRA low carbs
- Is Diabetes-friendly (it contains virtually no carbs), so blood sugar levels would unlikely spike
- Can be combined with less dry food. Add our 95% Premium Meats to their diet without sacrificing quality or balanced nutrition
A gradual transition to new food will avoid stomach issues, so don’t change your dog’s dishes all at once. Instead, mix the new food with your dog’s old food. Throughout a week, gradually decrease the proportion of old food while increasing the proportion of new food. By the seventh day, your dog should consume all new food and none of the old one.
- Limit Treats
It’s tempting to give treats to your dog, especially if he or she behaves well. These treats, however, often go unmonitored and often contribute to a dog’s obesity. Just like the sweet treats we give children, we have to keep pet snacks in check.
So control the urge to give them food, especially table scraps, and stick to your pet’s mealtime. Instead of snacks, use toys like clickers and balls for positive reinforcement. Use praise and affection to motivate your dog. If you really think that your dog deserves a treat, give him or her healthy snacks.
Additionally, don’t leave food available at all times. This could encourage your dog to overeat out of boredom.
- Maintain a Proper Weight
Once your dog has achieved the ideal weight, it’s crucial to maintain it. Drastic weight loss or gain isn’t healthy for your dog, so you keep controlling portions and leading an active lifestyle for your dog. Ask your vet if you should adjust your dog’s food portions, feeding time, and exercise routine, now that losing weight is no longer your goal.
Overweightness and obesity can adversely affect your dog’s health, life expectation, and overall quality of life. If you think your dog carries extra weight, consult your vet immediately for a weight loss plan.
Your dog will enjoy a long and happy life if you lead him or her to an active lifestyle and provide nutritious food.
Try our premium canned food for your dogs today.