Is your dog packing on the pounds? Statistics show that Americans’ pets are overweight. In 2014, the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention found that 53 percent of the dogs in the U.S. are overweight. If your pooch has extra weight around the middle, he can be at risk for a number of diseases, illnesses and health problems. Unlike humans, dogs aren’t able to change their diets naturally, so it’s up to us to be mindful of what they eat. Your veterinarian may tell you your dog needs to drop a few pounds, or you may notice that he’s getting a bit pudgy. It’s time to start treating your dog’s weight as a serious issue or else you could risk complications later. You can see if your dog is overweight by running your hand over his ribs: if you can feel them easily, your pet is fine, but if you have to push a bit to find the ribs, he may be overweight. Just check with your veterinarian for a second opinion.
The Dangers of Your Dog Being Overweight
Extra weight on a dog can spell out trouble for his health and future. Even a few extra pounds means extra weight can be stressful on the body. Here are just a few problems associated with extra weight in dogs.
- High blood pressure
- Increased risk of cancer
- Breathing problems or difficulty
- Lowered immune system
- Liver problems
- Lower energy
- Increased heat intolerance
Encouraging Weight Loss in Your Pet
Before making any significant changes in your pet’s diet or routine, be sure you consult with your vet to make sure that your dog will get the proper nutrition. The first step toward helping your dog lose weight is to ensure that he’s getting enough activity. Be sure you give him a brisk walk daily and give him plenty of exercise. Try taking him to the park and tossing a ball around for him to fetch, or toss a Frisbee. Even adding 15-20 minutes of extra activity twice a week can go a long way.
Next, look at his diet. Does he receive a lot of table scraps? What about his treats? Are the treats high in fat or does he have a certain amount per day? With proper vet guidance, make the dietary changes to cut his calories. Green beans are a healthy and vet-approved way to add more filler in your pet’s diet. If you have two dogs, and one is leaner than the other, you may want to feed your pets separately. Make sure your overweight pooch doesn’t get into your food, your other pets’ food, or any garbage. Your vet may also recommend you change the way you’re feeding your dog, such as going from freefreeding to several smaller meals a day.
Petstores and supermarkets often sell dog food formulated for weight loss, and with the proper guidance, this food may make a difference for your dog’s weight. If you ask your vet, they may be able to provide you with a free sample or coupons.
Your dog’s health is in your hands, and it’s up to you to make sure he’s healthy and happy. A fat dog may be cute, but is that cuteness worth the potential health risks? Follow the tips above, and make sure that your pet keeps off the pounds.