With the change in their lifestyle habits, from working outdoor creatures to lazy pets indoors, obesity in dogs has been on the rise. However, obesity is an issue that can be tackled easily before problems begin.
Overweight and Obese are two words that are often interchanged, but have slightly different meanings. A dog is considered overweight if he weighs more than what is considered normal and healthy for his size. Your pooch can be considered obese when he gains a significant amount of weight. As a result, his ribs and other body features are not visible, causing health problems. A dog that has become overweight is at a high risk of joint diseases and arthritis, joint tears, type 2 diabetes, and other serious health conditions.
Veterinarians and nutrition experts can help you figure out if your dog is overweight by following a body scale from 1-5. The numbers 1 and 2 indicate your dog is underweight, while 4 indicates overweight and 5 obese. 3 is the number most owners should aim for.
A dog categorized as 3 is considered as having a healthy weight. But such dogs may look “slim” to owners. These dogs have a natural tuck to their belly, making their chests appear long and broad while their stomachs are tightly tucked. From above, dogs have a sort of hourglass shape with broad chest and shoulders and the sweeping in of the abdomen on either side. A dog’s natural healthy state should look slightly thin.
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Can I Prevent My Dog From Becoming Overweight
Prevention is better than cure, they say. By ensuring that your furry friend stays in shape with a healthy weight, you can help him avoid all health problems associated with being overweight.
A good balanced diet tailored to your dog’s specific needs together with an exercise regimen can help keep him or her in shape, besides preventing any weight gain risk. A good long walk or even a 15-minute play session in the backyard several times a day can greatly decrease the chances of weight gain.
For his dietary regimen, you may want to start a balanced meal plan for your furry friend. So you should try to find a food that matches your dog’s energy level, with more amount of fats and proteins required for higher energy dogs while lower energy dogs needing less.
You may want to switch to healthier treats, such as giving a carrot or piece of broccoli, rather than a calorie-dense dog biscuit, to prevent weight gain.
What Should I Do If I Suspect My Dog Has Gained Too Much Weight
If you suspect that your dog may not be a perfect 3 on the body condition scale, it is a good idea to start a dietary and exercise regimen under veterinary supervision. Your vet can help determine if your furry friend is actually overweight and how much weight he should lose to get back in shape. Your vet may also suggest a specialized veterinary diet designed to help overweight or obese dogs gain weight in addition to an exercise program.
Specialized veterinary diets or switching to a better tailored food can help your dog feel fuller while eating less. Fewer calorie intake while still feeling full can help prevent “begging syndrome” where your dog looks as if he’s starving and wants all the treats in the world! These diets are usually very high in fiber to create that feeling of fullness. Lowering the amount of snacks and human food or switching to a “diet-friendly” food, such as carrots or other veggies, can help your dog lose weight without craving for treats.
Exercise holds the key to getting an overweight dog back in shape. For most overweight dogs, exercise should be built up gradually, as indulging too much in any form of exercise can actually harm joints and lead to more problems. Exercise can start off slowly as a single short walk daily to a slightly longer walk and playtime to multiple walks, jogs, or play sessions daily. The more energy your dog burns off, the more food his body is actually utilizing!
Natural Remedies for Treating Obesity in Dogs
Diet is usually the number one natural remedy used to help dogs get back to a normal weight. Many commercial foods now offer “all natural” diets designed to aid in weight loss. Feeding to your dog’s specific needs can also help decrease or prevent the risk of weight gain, as they will be better tailored to energy needs, breed concerns and even ingredients your dog may have trouble with. Diet and exercise are usually all that is needed for a dog to get back to feeling great without medications or additional supplements.