Has your doggie gotten too big around the middle, or all over for that matter? Obese dogs are a very common scenario in the United States. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, an estimated 52.7% of dogs in the US are overweight or obese. Defined by an excess of body fat, dog obesity can result in a laundry list of health problems. Obesity in dogs affects the bones and joints, the digestive organs and the dog’s ability to breathe properly to name a few.
The main reasons for dogs becoming obese is that there is an imbalance in the amount of food being consumed and the energy being expended. As is common in humans, too much food and not enough exercise brings on an excess of body fat. Obesity also becomes more common in older dogs, as their ability to exercise becomes lessened. Giving dogs too many treats as a reward can also add up to too many calories consumed. There are other contributing factors which may add to this scenario. Hypothyroidism, insulinoma, hyperadrenocorticism and simple neutering can add to the risk of obesity in dogs.
What to Do About Obesity in Dogs
According to Pet MD
, to help your dog overcome obesity, the first step is to rule out medical problems, as hypothyroidism is a very common reason for an excess of weight in pets. A simple blood test will determine if this is an issue.
Next, PetMD says to record your dog’s weight, and reduce his or her calorie intake by 1/3. Remember, this total should include all treats, snacks and leftovers. After 2 weeks have passed, weigh your dog again to see if there has been any progress. If your dog has lost any weight at all, this will let you know you are on the right track. If no weight loss has occurred, try reducing the calorie intake again by another 1/3.
About Reduced Calorie Dog Food
Many people assume that the way to go is to buy dog food that has less calories. However, this doesn’t always solve the problem. This is because even though there are less calories, these formulas often have more carbohydrates. Your dog’s body responds by storing these extra carbohydrates as fat. It is best to ask your veterinarian for a recommendation, but in most cases, formulas that are high in protein and low in fat and carbohydrates are a great choice.
If you are constantly refilling your dog’s bowl, this is definitely part of the problem. Even if they only nibble each time they pass it, it is very difficult to estimate how much your dog really eats in one day. Portion control is key to getting your dog back on track. A measuring cup can become your obese dog’s best hope. Be prepared for the fact that your dog is likely going to become hungry throughout the day. This is simply part of the process of losing weight. If you feel sorry for your dog and give him a bite of pizza crust or some other leftover here and there, these calories can really add up, especially if you have a smaller dog.
Get Your Dog Moving!
So logically, if your dog needs to lose weight, exercise needs to become part of their normal routine. Perhaps you think your dog is getting enough exercise just by playing fetch with you in the backyard, or running around the house, but this simply isn’t enough. Your dog needs at least 20 minutes of heart elevating exercise on a consistent basis throughout the week. Walking slowly through the park on a Sunday afternoon unfortunately won’t cut it. However, many people find that their busy schedules simply don’t allow them to walk their dog like they should. One solution to this is to hire a dog walker. Another is to invest in a dog treadmill. Dog treadmills are an ideal way to help get your obese dog in shape without having to worry about the weather, or taking time out of your schedule to walk outside with your dog. Doggie treadmills are the way to go!