Obesity in dogs can be a huge problem that leads to even more health problems like heart disease and diabetes. Overweight dogs tend to be more lethargic and even depressed as they might struggle to do the activities that they once enjoyed, like chasing a ball at the park or playing endlessly with their favourite humans. Although it can be caused by certain health conditions, which will require a visit to the vet, typically, obese dogs are that way as a result of overfeeding and not enough exercise. However, keeping your dog at their ideal body weight has a lot of benefits, helping them to remain healthier, reduce their risk of serious disease and live for longer – and we all want more time to spend with our dogs, right? If you suspect that your dog might be overweight or is putting weight on and you want to get it in check as quickly as possible, here are some top tips to help you keep your dog at an ideal weight for them.
How to Evaluate Your Dog’s Weight:
There are three markers that you can use to get a clear idea of where your dog’s weight is at. These include:
- Feel the ribs: Ribs that are slightly visible are quite healthy for a dog. When you feel your dog’s ribs, there should only be a slight covering of fat over the top. Any more usually means that your dog weighs more than they should.
- The abdominal tuck: When you look at your dog from the side, the abdomen behind the ribs should slope up at a gentle angle. If your dog’s belly is straight and does not have this rise, it usually indicates that they are carrying excess weight in their abdomen.
- The waist: When you look at their dog, you should be able to see a defined waist. If it’s hard to make out, that’s usually a sign that they’re overweight.
Are You Feeding Your Dog Too Much?
If you’re not sure whether or not you are feeding your dog too often, a simple way to tell is by considering how often they are going to the toilet. Generally speaking, dogs who are at their ideal body weight should poop once or twice per day, provided that there are no underlying digestive health conditions that could lead to more frequent pooping. If your dog is going to the toilet three to four times a day and does not have any health conditions that could be causing this, then it could be simply because you are giving them too much food.
Determine How Much to Feed Your Dog:
Figuring out how much to feed your dog is not always easy. And there are many variables that need to be taken into account when determining the best amount to give your pooch. You’ll need to consider your dog’s average lifestyle – a dog who takes part in agility competitions, goes for long walks every day, and is generally very active will typically require more food than a dog who gets walked once or twice a day in the park. Dog nutrition is measured in Kilocalories (kcal) instead of calories, so it’s important to understand how many kcals the food you’re giving your dog contains. To work how much is ideal, multiply your dog’s ideal body weight in lbs by 10-15 kcal, or 15-20 kcal if your dog is highly active.
Many people think that treats are the reason why dogs become overweight and they are often the first thing to go when pet parents decide to put their dog on a weight loss regime. However, not giving any treats to your dog is not recommended by the experts since treats are so important for training and bonding with your pet. However, what you should do is be smarter about the treats that you give your dog. Break treats into smaller pieces rather than feeding them whole so you can treat your dog while they eat less and opt for healthier natural dog treats that offer more nutrition. Bella and Duke offer a range of tasty, healthy raw dog treats that are low in kcal and offer a healthier alternative when training. Check them out at bellaandduke.com. Also, some dogs might be receptive to non-food treats like playing interactive games with their human.
Just like humans are healthier when they get enough exercise, a dog who’s active will also be a healthier dog. And, don’t forget that dogs who are exercised often tend to be tired and more content, which makes them easier to train too. Dogs who aren’t exercised enough will not only be more susceptible to gaining weight but they will also get more bored when they are at home, which can lead to destructive behaviours. Thankfully, there are many great ways to ensure that your dog gets more exercise even if you don’t have the time to take your dog on long walks. Hiring a dog walker is a great investment or you could send your pet to a daycare facility while you’re at work, where they will not only be able to run around and play all day but also get plenty of opportunities to socialise and make new canine playmates.
Regular Vet Visits:
Keeping up with regular visits to the vet is important if you want to keep your dog’s weight in check. Seeing your vet on a regular basis will give your vet the chance to monitor their progress and provide you with advice on how much weight they have to lose. It’s also important to consult with your vet before you decide to start a new diet or exercise routine for your dog, as this gives them the chance to offer tailored advice and check their overall health to ensure that there are no underlying conditions which could contribute to weight gain.
Avoid Crash Diets:
Just like with humans, it can be tempting to put your dog on a crash diet if they have gained a lot of weight that you want to help them lose quickly. But dieting too much and too quickly can have the opposite effect on your pet. Simply reducing the amount of food that your dog eats and increasing the amount of exercise that they do should be enough to help your dog lose weight, and bear in mind that losing weight slowly and steadily is always safer. Putting your dog on a crash diet could prevent them from getting the essential nutrients that they need.
If they’re eating too much and not exercising enough, it’s easy for dogs to end up putting weight on – just like humans. But also like us, being overweight or obese can lead to serious health problems in dogs, including arthritis from additional pressure on the joints and an increased risk of heart disease or diabetes. If your dog is getting overweight or you’ve just adopted a new dog who’s carrying a fair bit of extra weight, the good news is that there are some simple yet effective changes that you can make to their lifestyle to help them get back to their ideal body weight. By feeding less, giving healthier treats and encouraging your dog to exercise more, you can achieve their fitness and health goals.