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You hear a lot of news segments and read a lot of articles that call attention to the obesity issues that people are struggling with in recent years. The trend of abuse humans is concerning, but there is another dangerous obesity epidemic that gets far less attention: canine obesity.
While it’s concerning nearly 38% of American humans are obese, a staggering 53% of American dogs are obese. Canine obesity is a trend that unfortunately continues to go up. While the increased rate of obesity is troubling and is causing health issues for our beloved dogs, there is some good news. Pet owners can do a great deal to prevent their dog’s from becoming obese through a steady diet and adequate exercise.
What Causes Canine Obesity?
What causes canine obesity? The answer is pretty straightforward. The most common cause of obesity in dogs is when their caloric intake is exceeds the amount of calories they burn. The ratio to calories eaten and calories burned will be slightly different for every breed, and unique dog. But for the most part, if a dog is overweight it’s because he is either eating too much, or exercising too little.
For most overweight dogs, the real culprits for their obesity are the habits they’ve developed with their owners. The common ones include free-feeding, overeating, boredom and not enough playtime to run around and burn off calories. While it’s convenient to leave a bowl of dog food out for your furry friend to eat as he pleases, not all dogs can the will power to control how much they eat. Giving them too much food is not unlike us having Thanksgiving dinner each and every day. Our weight would balloon in a hurry. If your dog is struggling with obesity, consult your vet and create a healthy portion plan for your dog.
Some breeds of dogs are more prone to dog obesity than others, including: Cocker Spaniels, Labrador and Golden Retrievers, Basset Hounds, and Dachshunds.
Dog Obesity Management
If your dog is one of the many dogs struggling with obesity, you’re going to want to create an obesity management program for them. The first step in doing that is to take them into your vet and get an accurate and recorded body weight for them. Establishing a baseline weight is important to measure their progress in the future, and to identify how severe their obesity is.
Creating an obesity management program for your dog should be a collaborative effort between you, those who live with you and your dog, and your vet. Each person needs to be on the same page. If you create a specific diet and portion schedule for your dog, and a roommate or family member isn’t following it and is overfeeding your dog, all of your progress is going to be lost. Once you met with your vet and created your obesity management program, you need to sit down and discuss it with everyone that your dog also lives with. Everyone needs to be on the same page if you want to your dog to get his weight back down to a healthy level.
Your obesity management program will consist of altering your dogs portions sizes and increasing their daily exercise. Depending on the food that you’re currently feeding your dog, a change in your dog’s diet may also be in the cards.
The food that you feed your dog can impact their health and weight, not unlike human food. There’s a big difference in our health and weight if we eat fast food for a week straight or if we have balanced meals for a week. The same goes for your dog. Different types of food with have different nutrients and calorie levels in each serving. Altering your dog’s diet could bring down the amount of calories they are eating with each portion, which will help them on their path to getting their weight down. There’s a wide variety of types of dog food that help combat canine obesity. For recommendations for you dog, consult your local pet store and your vet.
Learn More About Your Dog’s Health at PetPlace
To combat your dog’s obesity problem, it’s important that you have a collaborative conversation with the people who live with your dog and your vet. As a group, you can design a system of increased exercise, portion control, and type of food that will have your dog on the path to improved health.
PetPlace is a great information resource for pet owners looking to expand their dog knowledge. Check out more of our dog health articles.