Causes of Canine Obesity:
Health Risks of Obesity in Dogs:
- Cardiac disease
- Diabetes Mellitus
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Orthopedic injuries (such as cruciate ligament rupture or patellar luxation)
- Respiratory disorders
- Various forms of cancer
Determining if Your Dog is Overweight:
Assessing Your Dog's Weight:
- Running your hands along your dog's ribcage, you should be able to palpate the ribs covered by a thin layer of fat. Inability to feel the ribs is a sign of an overweight dog.
- Looking at your dog from the side, you should be able to see the upward tuck of the abdomen. An overweight dog will have very little or no tuck.
- Viewing your dog from above, there should be a moderate narrowing at the waist just past the ribcage. A straight or bulging line from the ribcage to the hips indicates an overweight dog.
Managing Your Dog's Weight:
Canine Weight Loss Tips:
For most dogs, the traditional diet-and-exercise plan does the trick. However, some dogs need an extra helping hand. These dogs might be candidates for a canine weight loss drug called Slentrol(dirlotapide).
Another way to boost your dog's weight loss plan is to get involved with agility or another dog sport. You will be working with experts who want your dog to succeed but will not push him. In addition to losing weight, your dog will have a new skill.
Diet and Exercise - The Cornerstone of Weight Loss:
Feed your dog table scraps and human "junk food," and you might as well be asking for weight gain. Dog food and treats that are high in calories may also pack on the pounds, depending on the dog. Your vet can help you choose the right food for your dog. In some cases, vets will prescribe a special low fat/high fiber diet that is not available "over the counter." However, there are also many commercial diet that might work, including some holistic/natural diets.
Even healthy food and treats will lead to weight gain if given in excess. Allowing your dog to "free feed" by leaving a full bowl out all day is not a good idea, especially in a multiple dog household. Establish two or three set mealtimes per day. Use a measured scoop to give only the recommended amount of food. Feeding instructions on bags are general and may not be appropriate for your dog, so ask your vet to help you determine the right amount.
Dog treats should be significantly decreased for an overweight dog. Treats should never make up more than 10% of a dog's diet, and that percentage should be decreased for weight loss. You will also need to change the type of treat you feed. No cheese, hot dog pieces or fatty commercial dog treats. Shop for dog treats that are low in calories. Better yet, give small pieces of carrots and apples as treats - many dogs really love them.EXERCISE
Obviously,your dog is going to need more exercise to lose weight. If you do not already walk your dog daily for a specific period of time, start now. Schedule times to play fetch or tug-of-war. If you have an exercise schedule, increase the frequency and difficulty if possible - this will be good for you, too. The most important thing is to make a commitment to a plan and stick with it. Your dog is at your mercy.
Many dogs will be happy to be getting more exercise and attention, and they will joyfully await their scheduled exercise sessions. However dogs that are very overweight and out-of-shape may pose a challenge. Some dogs will simply stop in the middle of a walk, refusing to continue. This is probably because they are winded and/or in pain. To be safe, stay close to home and keep a slower pace. These dogs benefit from several short walks a day rather than one or two long ones.
Some dogs cannot exercise as needed due to an illness or injury brought on or worsened by the obesity. Consult your vet for recommendations. You may find that physical therapy with a canine rehabilitation practitioner helps.