Like Humans, being overweight or obese is an unhealthy life style.
It is fun for us to give special treats to our pets, and give them more food if they want it. We think we are doing them a favor and making them happy. We like to see our dogs happy and we think an extra serving of food, a dog biscuit or other treats, and table scraps will not hurt them. Actually, these fears could be detrimental to their health and well being. Treats should not be more than 10% of their daily diet.
Your dog may have gained weight in the last few years, gradually, so you did not notice it at first. Weight gain could have been the result of a variety of reasons, food being just one of them. Here are some things to consider:
The overall health of your dog needs to be evaluated. If your dog is healthy but eating too much, the remedy could be as simple as reducing his food intake or increasing your dog's exercise.
Young dogs, up to 2 years of age, are growing dogs. They need more nourishment. However, if you find your dog is becoming overweight at an early age, often this is an indication your best friend will have an overweight problem when he is older. You may need to reduce the amount of food you give your dog as he gets older.
To tell if your dog is overweight, Purina Body Condition System has established a scale from which you can tell if your dog is overweight.
1. Ribs, lumbar vertebrae, pelvic bones and all bony prominences evident from a glance. No discernible body fat. Apparent loss of muscle mass.
2. Ribs, lumbar vertebrae and pelvic bones easily visible. No palpable fat. Some evidence of other bony prominence. Minimal loss of muscle mass.
3. Ribs easily palpated and may be visible with no palable fat. Tops of lumbar vertebrae visible. Pelvic bones becoming prominent. Clear waste and abdominal tuck.
4. Ribs easily palpable, with minimal fat covering. Waist easily noted, viewed from above. Abdominal tuck evident.
5. Ribs palpable without excess fat covering. Waist observed behind ribs when viewed from above. Abdomen tucked up when viewed from side.
6. Ribs palpable with slight excess fat covering. Waist is discernible viewed from above but is not prominent. Abdominal tuck apparel.
7. Ribs palpable with difficulty; heavy fat cover. Noticeable fat deposits over lumbar area and base of tail. Waist absent or barely visible. Abdominal tuck may be present.
8. Ribs not palpable under very heavy fat cover, or palpable only with significant pressure. Heavy fat deposits over lumbar area and base of tail. Waist absent. No abdominal tuck. Obvious abdominal distention may be present.
9. Massive fat deposits over thorax, spine and base of tail. Waist and abdominal tuck absent. Fat deposits on neck and limbs. Obvious abdominal distention.
If you establish that your dog is overweight, make an appointment with a veterinarian to determine if overeating is the only problem.
Overweight or obese dogs could have a medical condition and the problem is not just overeating. It is possible your dog may be suffering from a disease such as a thyroid condition, Cushing's disease, bloat, diabetes, arthritis, or other condition. A veterinarian will be able to make this determination. If any of these conditions exist, he will be able to prescribe the necessary treatment.
If it is established that the dog's life style needs to change, here are some options to consider:
1. Exercise: Exercising your dog every day for 40-60 minutes will strengthen his respiratory and circulatory systems and help him get needed oxygen into his system. It will keep his muscles toned and joints flexible. It will increase his energy level, aid in his digestion, and relate his boredom.
2. Food: Determine with the advice from your veterinarian if you should cut back on the amount of his current food or change to a less caloric food. Discuss the quantity he should have. Cutting back on his regular food may reduce its vitamin and mineral intake and a dog vitamin / mineral supplement may be needed.
3. Weigh your dog weekly: Keeping track will help you determine if what you are doing is working. Weighing him should be done at the same time, on the same day of the week, and on the same scale.
4. Neutered or spayed: A dog that has been altered has a reduced metabolic rate so that they would require fewer calories.
5. Activity level: Another factor is your dog's activity level. Is he hyper or lazy? If, for instance, your dog has arthritis, his activity level may be lessened, and so would the need for his caloric intake. Exercise is still important, but let your dog set the pace, if he has arthritis. If, however, he is hyper, he may need more calories.
6. Social environment: If you and your family all care for your dog, all of you need to understand the need not to sneak a treat to your dog. Everyone needs to realize you love your dog and want him to be healthy by not over feeding him.
7. A slow feeder: This is a food bowl that has obstacles in it. It slows down the process of eating. This can also help eliminate bloating because he will not inhale an excess of air while eating.
8. Indoor or Outdoor pet: An outdoor dog in a colder climate requires more food because he needs the layer of fat on this body to help control his body temperature. And indoor dog would, obviously, need fewer calories.
9. Age: The older the dog, the less food he needs. His activity level will decrease so he will burn fewer calories.
His weight should be your concern. When introducing a weight loss program, you are doing it out of love for your dog. However, losing weight too fast is not good. He may end up gaining it back more quickly. Be sure to check with your veterinarian before you start your dog on a weight loss program.
Remember: A healthy dog is a happy dog!
Note: I am not a veterinarian nor do I have any formal training in any medical field. This article is not to replace the advice of your veterinarian. I am only providing options and ideas that you may want to discuss your veterinarian