Is your dog overweight? The dangers of obesity in canines
It’s estimated that over 55% of dogs in the United States are overweight. Obesity is a dangerous ailment that can shorten your best friend’s lifespan, and it also brings a ton of other diseases and disorders with it!
Unfortunately, most pet parents simply “free feed” their animals by leaving the kibble in their bowls and allowing their pets to eat throughout the day, trusting that they will know how to regulate their own food intake. The truth is, most animals do not know to do this, and they quickly pack on the pounds.
Just like people, dogs get bored easily and many of them don’t have much else to do besides eat. Couple that with the poor state of most dog foods, which are full of calorie stuffed cheap fillers, and the fact that most pets just don’t get enough exercise, and you have a recipe for disaster.
The dangers of obesity in dogs
Excessive fat is very dangerous for many animals because their bodies are already pretty small. That means even a few excess pounds can quickly turn into life threatening health complications. A study in labradors found that even being moderately overweight can shorten their lifespace by as much as 2 years!
Obese dogs are also more likely to develop diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, bladder stones, and many other health complications. That’s why it’s important to make sure that your best friend maintains a healthy weight.
How do I know if my dog is overweight?
If your dog goes to the vet regularly, then it’s likely your vet will say something about their excessive weight gain. However, you can also get a good idea of their condition by looking at pictures of other dogs of their breed, or by doing a simple visual inspection of your dog’s body.
- You should be able to feel all of your dog’s ribs, without a thick layer of fat on them
- Your pup’s chest should also be wider than their abdomen
Overweight dogs will typically lack any distinction in body shape between the chest and abdomen. Or, you may also notice that your dog has less energy than he used to. Being overweight can put strain on their organs, and if your dog loses some weight, you’ll likely find that he will regain his puppy-like demeanor.
How do I help my dog to lose weight?
The first step to helping your dog to lose weight is to put them on a healthier dog food. Most commercial pet foods are full of what is the equivalent of canine junk food. It’s meat flavored sugar cereal, and you’ll be doing your pooch a favor by getting them a higher quality food.
However, that is not enough on its own. You’ll also need to be proactive about monitoring your dog’s food intake. Even the healthiest of dog foods is still bad if your dog eats too much of it. In most cases, the dog food bag itself will have feeding instructions telling you how much of it they should be eating based on their body weight.
Make sure you know how much your dog weighs and about how much they should weigh ideally. Measure out their food for every meal and do not allow them to free feed. Stick to a routine and feed them half of their daily allotment in the morning and the other half in the evening.
You should also try to up your dog’s exercise levels. This will be good for both of you, as many Americans could stand to lose a few pounds as well. There’s no reason to make it complicated, just take your dog for an extra long walk, or take them outside for some play sessions a couple of times per day to help them burn off some excess calories.
Not only will this help your dog to shed some pounds, but it will make them happier as well. Many dogs are lacking in mental stimulation and time spent outside playing with their humans is what they really need, the weight loss is just a great bonus!