For one thing, it can be difficult to train a dog that has become too thin to perform any task beyond walking and eating. But it’s an entirely different case for overweight dogs. Obesity in dogs is a serious issue and all owners should do their best to help pets reduce weight. This article takes an in-depth look at what you can do as an owner or trainer to make your canine friend slim down again.
Obesity in Dogs: Overview
Obesity is a common problem among dogs of all breeds and ages. Just as with humans, many dog owners do not realize their furry friends are overweight until they have been unable to move for some time. The good news is that once you know your dog is obese, doing something about it is relatively easy. Simply modifying the amount of food you offer and taking the time to spend at least 30 minutes a day on exercise can go a long way toward helping your dog get back into shape again.
Generally speaking, the breeds that are more likely to be overweight include Chihuahuas, Bulldogs, and Basset hounds. Those that are less likely to be overweight include Greyhounds, Golden Retrievers, and Yorkshire terriers. Older dogs are also more at risk of developing obesity than younger ones, particularly if they have stopped exercising. However, it can occur at any stage in a dog’s life.
Causes of Obesity in Dogs
The main reasons for obesity in dogs include:
1. Eating too much and not getting enough exercise:
If a dog has access to food 24/7, he/she will get into the habit of overeating. This can lead to them consuming more calories than they need which leads to weight gain. The same applies if the dog is left unsupervised so that they can eat as much as they like when you’re not there. If your dog is overweight then you must take steps to alter this behavior and encourage them to exercise.
2. Badly fitting dog food:
The best dog food is designed for dogs with a healthy weight because it contains a higher percentage of protein and less carbohydrate in the form of grains. If you feed your dog a diet that is too high in calories or inappropriate for their size then they will end up overweight even when they’re not eating more than their owner.
3. Poor nutrition from poor quality food, particularly when it comes to treats:
Treats are great fun for dogs but they should only be used sparingly. Excessive amounts of junk food can lead to obesity because the majority of your dog’s day still consists of unprocessed, unbalanced foods that lack essential nutrients.
4. Inadequate exercise:
You must take steps to ensure that your dog gets enough exercise each day, whether they’re a couch potato or a lap dog. Excessive amounts of time spent indoors can lead to weight gain as well as poor health due to the lack of physical activity. If you want your dog to lose weight then making sure they get lots of exercises is a must.
The more stressed your dog is, the more likely they are to become overweight. The lack of exercise and poor nutrition can lead to them storing fat as a form of self-protection which they then use when faced with stressful situations such as thunderstorms or fireworks.
6. Health problems such as arthritis, thyroid dysfunction, and diabetes:
If your dog has arthritis, thyroid dysfunction, or diabetes, then it can be harder for them to lose weight and keep it off because their bodies don’t work as well as they used to do.
Warning Signs of Obesity in Dogs
It is important for owners to know what could cause canine obesity. Many dog owners fail to notice if their pet has become too thin or too fat because these are not uniform conditions. A dog that is suffering from obesity will have trouble chewing or swallowing normally. Their teeth are receding, their gums are loose, and they may have trouble breathing. This particular kind of weight loss is common in older dogs, but it could be caused by a number of medical conditions, including diabetes or cancer.
Signs of obesity can also include poor coat condition, in which the hair becomes matted, followed by ear infections in the dog’s outer ears. The onset of these health issues could be related to an eating disorder or liver disease that has caused the overweight pet to stop eating altogether. In most cases, the dog is not actively refusing to eat but is simply not interested in food at all.
Pets with this condition have a hard time breathing and will have difficulty standing up or lying down comfortably. A dog that has been overweight for very long could lose interest in all activities and begin to show a lack of energy as a result.
How Do You Measure Body Fat Percentage?
There are two ways to determine whether your dog is at a healthy weight or not. First, you can measure their body fat content, which is easy to do at home if you have the right equipment. To do this you will need a pair of calipers, which are widely available to buy online. Get your vet to show you how to use them properly before starting.
The second way is to get your vet to do it for you during a routine checkup. If your dog has an excessive amount of body fat then the following things are likely to occur:
- Their hair may become fluffier, and they may develop an increased amount of facial oils as well as greasy fur which smells due to an excess amount of sebum.
- Their coat may become patchy in parts, particularly on the chest, neck, and stomach. This is due to poor blood flow to these areas which deprives them of oxygen and nutrients.
- They may develop joint pain in their hips, elbows, and knees due to the extra weight putting more pressure on these joints.
- Their heart will have to work harder in order to pump blood through their body. This can lead in the long term to the development of heart disease which is sometimes fatal.
- They may develop osteoarthritis in later life when their joints are subjected to extra pressure due to an excess body fat content.
Treatments for Obesity in Dogs
One of the main treatments for canine obesity is to offer your pet smaller portions of food each mealtime. You can also vary the diet by adding low-fat fish or lean meat to the meal plan, which will keep your dog from getting bored with his/her normal dry food.
It is also important to make the time you spend with your pet count. Make sure to spend at least 30 minutes per day on activity with your dog; owners who do 45 minutes each day of exercise and play with their dogs in a fenced-in yard can help keep them in better shape. If your dog does not like to run around, he/she may be bored enough to eat less, which could help him/her lose weight without resorting to surgery.
Undergoing Surgery for Treatment of Obesity:
If surgery is the only option your veterinarian offers for treating obesity in dogs, you will need additional help from a vet or other healthcare provider who works closely with human patients. This is because your pet may not be able to chew or swallow food normally after his/her surgery.
The risk of vomiting and regurgitating the food after feeding is very high, which means you will have to administer water, glucose, and antibiotics through a feeding tube. In many cases, your vet will connect the tube to a needle or syringe that you can use on a daily basis.
When your furry friend goes home from the hospital, make sure he/she has everything he/she needs to heal properly from the surgery. Your vet may prescribe antibiotics for several days before you pick up the dog; it is important for owners to make sure their pets do not go without these drugs for more than 24 hours.
Possible Implications of Obesity in Dogs
One of the biggest dangers associated with obesity is that some dogs may suffer from a condition called pancreatitis, which can lead to death. Also, while some dogs may lose interest in food while overweight, others will eat all they can and become dangerously underweight. This particular condition is also dangerous and could cause your pet to starve if it cannot find enough food to eat.
Veterinarians will usually recommend that owners place their pets on a low-fat diet, which will help them shed pounds without risking serious health problems. If you are not comfortable changing your pet’s diet, your vet will help you find a weight loss plan that works best for your dog.
Preventing Obesity in Dogs
One of the best ways for owners to prevent obesity in dogs is to control the amount of food they offer their pets each mealtime. You should also take steps to manage their activity level by getting them out for walks or play sessions at least twice every day. This will allow them to control portions better and help keep them happy and healthy in both body and mind.
If you are unwilling to take steps to control the amount of food your pet eats, you should consider getting a second dog. Two pets may not always get along, but they can provide companionship and enough exercise for both dogs to stay in shape. If you only have one dog, try playing with smaller stuffed animals that he/she can chase or chew on to get out some of his/her energy.
Keeping your pet at a healthy weight will get progressively difficult as they age. By being proactive now about your pet’s health, you will be able to prevent a number of medical conditions that could become serious if left untreated.
Your dog will thank you for making these changes and will remain in good shape long into adulthood.
Thank you for reading the article.
Do you have any experience with obesity in dogs? Have you talked to your vet about it? Share your experience in the comments below!