Just How Did My Dog Get Fat?
It’s no secret that more people are obese than ever before. A lot of dog owners don’t seem to realize how this trend has affected their pets as well. There are more overweight dogs now than ever before. Veterinarians are constantly warning dog owners about the dangers of dog obesity. Like people, dogs can suffer a variety of health problems due to weight issues. However, there is something you can do for your overweight dog before their health issues become severe.
Over Half of the Dogs in the US Are Now Overweight
Did you know that 43% of dog owners with overweight dogs didn’t realize their pets were too heavy? This means not only are dogs heavy, but their owners don’t realize they’re heavy. Their pet’s health is in danger. Most people know that one dog which is so fat they can’t take part in regular activities. Yet, what about all the dogs just over the unhealthy line? Veterinarians have recently noted how most of the dogs they see are somewhat overweight. In fact, 53% of dogs in the United States today are overweight. Which means, one of your dogs is likely overweight and you may not even know it.
How to Look at Your Dog and Know if They Are Too Fat
Taking a simple look at certain points on your dog can give you a good indication for whether it is overweight. The first thing you can look at is the dog’s ribs. A dog with a healthy weight should have easily felt ribs with less than a half an inch of fat covering. Many dog owners believe if their dog’s ribs are visible they are malnourished. This thought is what leads many owners to over indulge their canine companions.
The second thing to look at on your dog is the base of the tail. A dog of a healthy weight should feel smooth, but the bones should be distinguishable under a very thin layer of fat. If it is hard to feel those bones, then your dog is probably too heavy.
The next place to look on your dog is the belly. While it is obvious that a dog with a very large belly is too heavy, it may be easy to miss the signs of a dog that is just barely over the healthy weight mark. The key is to look at where the stomach tucks into the hind legs. If there is no obvious abdominal tuck, then you can assume your dog is not within the healthy weight standard and could afford to lose a few pounds.
Lastly, a good indicator of a healthy weight is the shape of your dog when you look at them from above. Ideally, the dog would have an hourglass shape formed by the hips and the waist. Dogs with no noticeable waist may be overweight. A dog with a wider waist than hips is severely overweight. This dog will be most susceptible to the poor health side effects of dog obesity.
The Health Effects of Your Dog Being Overweight
Overweight dogs can suffer from a variety of health problems. These health problems can lead to a shortened life expectancy. Dogs with a healthy weight live on average 2.5 years longer than those who are overweight. With an average life expectancy of 10-13 years, dogs which get an extra 2.5 years are really benefiting from having their weight managed.
There are many reasons why healthy weight dogs live longer. Most of these have to do with diseases and health conditions. Overweight dogs tend to suffer more with diabetes, hypertension, and arthritis. These health problems can lead to death or suffering for animals left untreated. Treating the symptoms can be both difficult and expensive.
Overweight dogs can also suffer from issues like breathing problems and arthritis. These issues are ones that will make your dog really feel the discomfort of being overweight. Many dogs, especially those breeds already prone to breathing issues, will experience respiratory problems. Difficulty breathing is even more uncomfortable when paired with arthritis. Arthritis is much worse when extra pounds are added to already painful joints. Arthritis and obesity can slow down and cause pain for your dog.
How Did My Dog Get So Fat?
The cause of obesity is simple: too many calories in and not enough out. But where is your dog getting these extra calories? The answer is treats, overfeeding, and poor quality food.
Most dog owners like to give their dogs treats, but they don’t really realize what kind of impact certain treats have on their dog. One dog cookie to a medium sized dog can have the nutritional impact of a whole hamburger. A whole pig ear is equal to six cans of cola. A small dog biscuit: two double stuffed Oreo cookies. And you probably aren’t just giving one treat at a time but several.
In addition to giving too many treats, you may also be overfeeding your dog. There is no ideal amount of food to give a dog because every dog is a little bit different. For example, a typical medium sized dog weighing 25-50 pounds should be fed one to two cups of kibble per day. The difference between one cup and two is quite significant. So you should start by feeding the lower amount and adding to it based on how the dog’s weight responds to it. Dogs should eat two meals per day. Having them at the same time each day makes it easier on your dog. They don’t tend to get as hungry when they don’t have to wait super long periods of time between meals.
Getting a higher quality food is also important to your dog’s weight management. Lower quality foods tend to have more fat and less nutrition, leaving your dog feeling hungrier. This may cause them to whine for more food. The best way to choose the right amount of dog food and the right type is to talk to a veterinarian and establish a diet plan.
Good Food and Exercise Can Help Reduce Your Dog’s Weight
Feeding properly and limiting calories is the most important part to lowering your dog’s weight. Exercise is also super helpful in maintaining or losing weight. Walking is a great place to start for most dogs. When walking for exercise, take brisk walks and only stop to take an occasional bathroom break. Daily active playtime with a rope toy or ball is another good way to get exercise. Some dogs get even more exercise when visiting the dog park.
Pounds add up quickly for your canine companion. One pound on a small dog can be equal to 30 pounds for humans. Track their weight and food intake. Make sure they are getting enough exercise. Without this, they could be facing some serious health issues. Pay attention early on. It’s so easy to let it get out of control when you are just loving up your dogs with more food or treats. If they are starting to get a little fluffy around the edges, do something. It’s no easier for them to lose the weight than it is for us. Love them enough to keep them healthy. Start today!