This may come as a surprise but the obesity epidemic affects our canine friends almost as much as it affects human beings. Obesity means having excessive body fat that presents a risk to health.
In 2017, a survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention revealed that 56% of dogs in the US were classified as clinically overweight or obese. Obesity may lead to numerous health problems, such as hip dysplasia, diabetes, heart disease and cancers of all types.
How do I know if my dog is obese?
Owners who see their dogs all the time may fail to notice their pets’ gradual change in weight. This can be particularly difficult if you have a long-coated breed. Your vet and veterinary health care team can assist with an assessment. They use a rating system called the Body Condition Score to determine whether a dog is in the “danger zone.” Typically, dogs are said to be at their ideal weight if their ribs are easy to feel as individual solid forms.
What can I do?
Once you have determined that your pooch is obese, find out how much weight he needs to lose, and adjust his meals specifically for weight loss. Commercial dog foods have feeding recommendations for dogs of different sizes right on the bag. Read the instructions on your dog’s food to find out the recommended amount, and stick to it. Don’t guess. Don’t eyeball it.
Increasing your pet’s physical activity is equally important for successful treatment. A common mistake among pet owners that put their dogs on a weight loss program is to jump into an intensive exercise program that the dog is incapable of handling. Consult your vet on what types of activities are best for your pet’s breed, age, gender, and current physical abilities. Additionally, Dr. Ernie Ward of APOP has some great tips for walking your pooch.