Excessive weight is a problem not just with humans but also with dogs. Obesity in dogs is a dietetic illness characterized by too much fat in the body. Obesity is common in almost all dog ages but occurs more in middle–aged dogs.
In the United States, a study conducted in 2017 suggests that approximately 56% of dogs owned as pets are classified as obese. Just like in humans, obesity can cause other health issues in dogs. These include joint disease, diabetes mellitus, and respiratory problems.
Fortunately, it only takes a little effort to keep your pup in shape!
- Food does not always mean love. Most pet owners associate their love for their dogs on how much food and treats they provide. We all want our pooch to grow, but keep in mind that they need to grow at the right pace. No matter if you have a Chihuahua or a Saint Bernard, giving too much food and treats will not guarantee good health. Educate yourself on your canine’s daily calorie requirement so you know how much and how often to feed. Read the labels on the packaging of their food.
- Exercise with them. A simple math can be done to make sure your pup stays fit and healthy. Calories burned should be greater than calories consumed. Exercising with your dog does not need to be strenuous. Jog around the neighborhood for about 15–30 minutes in the morning and go for a 15–minute stroll at night. This does not just help burn the calories from the food and treats, it also helps drain energy in your dog so they won’t be too active and will be able to go to sleep at night.
- Get a diagnosis. Dogs can gain weight without you actually noticing it until he just looks three times his normal size. To make sure that your dog is still within his ideal weight (breed size and age considered), have your vet do the assessment. With humans, we get checked for the Body Mass Index (BMI) while with dogs, vet evaluates their Body Condition Score (BCS). In addition, your vet may also conduct additional diagnostic tests to rule out possibilities of underlying conditions such as thyroid disease that actually causes the weight problem.
- Generate a calendar of activities. In case your dog is diagnosed obese, create a long–term plan to resolve his health condition. Set your goals. Know how much weight your dog needs to lose and be realistic in the amount of time to achieve the goal. Discuss with your vet the necessary change in his diet. Crash diets, usually done by people, can lead to fatal liver failure in pets; therefore, you should gradually change the amount of food you provide based on your vet’s advice.
Losing weight, whether in people or dogs, is a challenging mission to achieve. It takes time, commitment, and effort altogether. It may seem impossible to begin with but you might just be surprised with what you can actually do.