Obese dogs are much like obese people. Obesity can be a serious condition that affects their lifestyle and lifespan, not to mention their general happiness.
While your pup might not feel depressed after seeing a supermodel on a magazine, they will definitely experience a drop in mood when they can’t run, play, or have the energy to move as easily as normal.
While genetics do play a role, most cases of dog obesity simply come from eating too much and exercising too little!
It’s all about establishing a balance of what you eat and what you do – but, of course, the dog has no way of controlling that balance.
It’s up to you, the owner, to prevent or reverse the issue.
What Health Problems Can My Obese Dog Have?
There are a host of obese dog health problems that you should look out for if your dog is overweight.
Take a look at these:
- Exercise intolerance
- Decreased stamina
- Respiratory compromise
- Heat intolerance
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Diabetes/insulin resistance
- Liver disease
These health problems can affect the happiness and longevity of your pet, just like it can a human who does not take care of themselves.
Vets say that about 45% of dogs in the US are at least overweight, if not obese.
That’s a startling fact, but according to vets seeing more and more obese animals showing up at clinics across the country, this disturbing trend doesn’t seem to be slowing.
While some internal organ damage may be irreversible, if you take action, overall health and future damage may be avoided.
What to do if You Have an Obese Dog
Dog obesity management is treated just like human obesity is.
A calorie-controlled diet is required to ensure they don’t gain additional weight. Exercise will also ensure the dog is burning some extra calories to lose the weight they’ve packed on over time.
Be sure to talk to the vet, however, about how much food your dog requires to be healthy and continue to lose the weight, and how much exercise is appropriate for your dog based on how overweight they are and the food they need.
It’s important that your dog is getting enough to eat so as to avoid a famine instinct which makes them hold weight or to lose weight too fast, putting them in jeopardy.
Similarly, overworking your pet can cause them to lose valuable calories and over-strain their muscles, causing long-term damage.
Diet and Exercise are Key
Obesity management dog foods are available at most traditional pet stores like PetCo or PetSmart, as well as at box retailers like Walmart or Target.
Talk to your vet about what a good choice of food for you dog is. This may often depend on the size, type, weight, and breed of your dog. The vet can determine how much you should be feeding daily and in what increments, as some dogs respond better to free-feeding while others need a strict schedule.
Daily walks and other activities are just as important to the dog losing weight as the diet is.
Whether you are taking your dog for a couple of moderate-paced walks each day or playing some fetch in the yard, keep the dog moving. Obese dog health problems will continue to get worse without serious improvements, so playing around can help your furry friend along!
Not to mention, they’ll enjoy spending time with you and getting excited, creating a stronger bond with you as the owner.
Here’s a great video on how to help your obese dog lose weight:
Be sure to weigh your dog once per week to monitor their progress. Calculate their weight pattern in a notebook until they reach their goal weight.
When they are at their optimal weight, continue to check every few weeks in the future to make sure the weight is not creeping back on. It can be hard to tell if the weight gain is slow and you see your pet every day!
As a bonus, creating a diet schedule for your dog can also help you with your own weight loss plans. If you struggle with portion control or eating at the right times, then having Fido on board with you has all the advantages of Weight Watchers and none of the guilt if you both slip up now and then.
Don’t worry, your pup won’t tell!
If you do find out that your dog is obese or overweight, do not just blame yourself. We live in a culture where giving extra food is seen as a loving gesture towards your furry friend.
But, remember, food is a requirement to live as well.
Feeding your pet to the point of obesity is not an act of love, but can be harmful to your pet. Do not “feel bad” you let things get to that point.
Instead, just find an obesity management dog food and possibly some healthier treats (so you can still give your pooch some love a few times a day without adding the weight) and help your pet get the exercise they need every single day.
Do you have an obese dog?