Did you know that around 56% of dogs in the United States are overweight? When you think that over half of dogs in the U.S. need to lose weight, you may ask ‘is my dog overweight?’
When it comes to stemming the tide of obesity, knowing what your dog should weigh is important. But is it bad for a dog to be overweight, and if so, what can be done about it?
Here’s what to do if you have an overweight dog.
What Are the Problems Caused By Your Dog Being Overweight?
While obesity in dogs may cause practical problems like them no longer being able to fit in their perfect puppy harness and leash set and instead need a harness for overweight dogs, there is a more sobering side to the issue.
Just like with humans, obesity in dogs can cause serious health complications. A dog that is overweight is more likely to suffer from conditions such as:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Immune problems
- Lung disorders
Many of these conditions could be life-threatening. As your dog’s owner, it is your responsibility to take good care of your pet to make sure they’re in good health at all times.
How to Tell If Your Dog Is Overweight
Every breed is different, and dogs do come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. However, all breeds will have a healthy weight range depending on the age of your dog.
There are two ways that you can find out whether your dog is overweight. The first way is to check with the American Kennel Club to find out what the ideal weight for your dog is.
The second way would be to take your pooch to the vets and have them weighed there. Your vet will be able to advise you on whether or not your dog is overweight. They will also be able to give your dog a check-up to ensure there are no weight-related illnesses that may affect them.
Exercise Your Dog Daily
Exercise is important for your dog. You should be taking your dog on daily walks anyway, but this becomes particularly important if your dog is overweight.
If your dog is particularly obese, you will have to proceed with caution when it comes to exercise. Start off slowly and gently. Take them for short, slow-paced walks to begin with and slowly build up the speed and length of the walk as they begin to lose weight.
Pay attention to the weather when you exercise. If it is too hot, your dog may develop heatstroke or burn the pads on their paws.
It is recommended that your dog gets twenty minutes of exercise, twice a day. Not only is this good for your dog, but it’s also good for you too.
Speak to your vet about any other forms of exercise that might be suitable for your dog.
Buy the Right Dog Food for Overweight Dogs
You may think that all dog food is suitable for your beloved pet, however, just like with human food, some dog food is calorie-heavy and lacks many of the nutrients that your dog needs to stay healthy. It’s essentially like us eating junk food.
Speak with your vet and get them to recommend a brand of dog food that is well-balanced for your dog.
Think About Portion Control
Just like humans, dogs are prone to overeating. Very often, if you feed your dog too much, they will eat too much.
Check with your vet and pay attention to your pet food manufacturer’s recommended portion sizes. If you want your dog to lose weight, you may need to start measuring or weighing their portions.
Try Breaking Up Meals
Instead of giving your dog two large meals a day, try breaking up their meals into smaller portions. Having three to six meals each day will mean that your dog has to burn more calories to digest the food.
This also helps reduce hunger spikes by keeping your pet’s stomach full all day.
Treats Add Up
Treats may only be quite small, but they do add up. If your dog is one that loves treats, you may need to look for some alternatives.
You could opt to give your dog small pieces of vegetables such as carrots to reward them for good behavior, instead of carb-heavy treats.
Avoid Human Food
Giving your dog some of your own food may seem harmless enough, but very often, human food is highly processed. It also has a lot more calories in it than is good for your dog. You should avoid giving your dog food from your plate.
Rule Out Medical Conditions
If you’re staying within the recommended calorie boundaries for your dog and you’re exercising them daily and you don’t see any weight loss occurring, pay a visit to your vet. You’ll need to do this to rule out a medical condition causing the weight gain.
Weight gain could be brought about by hypothyroidism or Cushing’s syndrome.
What to Do With an Overweight Dog
If you suspect that you have an overweight dog, you should make an appointment with the vet to have your pooch weighed and checked over. If your dog is overweight, you should then put your dog on a diet with healthy, portion-controlled meals.
Exercise is important in maintaining a healthy weight. You should limit the number of treats that your dog has and stop feeding them human food.
For more great dog-related articles, check out the rest of the blog.