There’s a lot of responsibilities that dog owners undertake when they bring a dog into their home. They take on the financial responsibility of feeding their dog, providing their dog with the necessary supplies, and handling the required veterinary bills. Dog owners also have to take on the responsibility of caring for their dog and providing their dog with all the love and support they need to live a happy and healthy life. Within that responsibility, is helping in the task of preventing your dog from becoming obese.
Canine obesity is one of the fastest growing health problems for dogs. As with people, obesity can lead to a variety of diseases, disorders, and other complications in dogs. Studies show that a staggering 54% of dogs in the United States are considered obese. When it comes to combating obesity for your dog, it’s easier to take proactive steps and prevent your pup from becoming overweight than it is to be reactive and get your dog back down to a healthy weight.
The article will provide some tips for preventing obesity in your dog, as well as some steps to take if your dog is already overweight.
What Causes Canine Obesity?
There are several different causes for canine obesity, the two largest being improper diet or an insufficient amount of exercise. Often, dog obesity occurs from a combination of the two.
A dog’s weight is determined by their caloric intake and the amount of calories burned. If a dog is not receiving a consistent and balanced diet of food, and a consistent and appropriate amount of exercise, the chances for obesity increase.
There are additional causes for obesity that are not directly related to exercise and diet. A dog recovering from an illness or injury is usually required to remain inactive and is therefore at risk for weight gain. Weight gain can also be the a symptom of a hormonal disorder, such as hypothyroidism or Cushing’s syndrome. Lastly, genetic predisposition is a big factor is a dog’s propensity for obesity. Because of this, particular dog breeds require a more disciplined commitment to a sound diet and steady exercise. Vulnerable breeds include English Bulldogs, Beagles, Dachshunds, Pugs, Dalmatians and Cocker Spaniels.
Preventing Dog Obesity
Your dog needs to exercise regularly to maintain a healthy body and weight. Exercise strengthens your dogs respiratory system, provides oxygen to tissue cells, keeps muscles toned and joints flexible, provides fun, improves brain activity, and burns calories, which directly combats obesity.
Different breeds of dogs will require different exercise regimens. Speaking broadly, it’s a good idea for dog owners to give their dogs regular walks, and try to have regular play time where the dog is getting plenty of physical activity.
Healthy Food and Portions
Not all dog food is the same. While it may look and smell the same to us, some dog foods are much healthier for your pup than others. Talk with your dog’s vet about receiving some dietary recommendations based upon your dog’s age, breed, and size.
Monitor Your Dog’s Weight
It can be difficult to notice small weight gains in your dog. To best monitor your dog’s weight and health, you should routinely weigh your dog and take note of the weight. By observing the measurements over time, you’ll have a far greater read on how healthy your dog is.
Be Mindful of Table Scraps and Treats
We know how tempting it is to deny your dog a small table scrap when they hit you with their adorable, begging eyes. However, human foods are not good for your dog, and can be more difficult to digest, and subsequently burn off. Always avoid feeding your dog human food that is high in sugar.
Also, be mindful of the number of dog treats you are giving your pup. Moderation is key.
What if My Dog is Already Overweight?
If your dog is already a part of the 54% of obese dogs, then you’ll need to commit to an action plan for helping your dog get their weight down. Some tips for helping your dog lose weight include:
- Lower your dog’s daily caloric intake by changing the dog food product (there are several diets formulated for weight loss) or the amount fed daily.
- Increasing fiber or water intake may sometimes be necessary to satiate your dog.
- Increase exercise activity. To enhance exercise, a variety of leashes and toys are available.
Weight loss should be a family effort. All members of the family must admit the animal is overweight and commit to a weight loss program. It may be helpful to maintain a log of intake (food and treats) and weight to monitor progress. It might be most effective if one person takes charge of feeding your dog, but all members can help exercise him.
Learn More About Your Dog’s Health at PetPlace
By monitoring your dog’s weight and by providing your dog with a healthy diet of food and exercise, you’ll be well on your way for preventing obesity. If you’re looking for more health tips for you dog, you’ve come to the right place. At PetPlace, we have thousands of vet-approved articles that inform dog owners about their pup’s health and wellness.