Like humans, dogs can put on weight if they overeat or don’t exercise enough and, like their two-legged friends, it also tends to happen over time without us noticing. Since our pets rely on us for food and exercise, we can be part of the problem. A lot of dog owners are unaware that their dog has packed on the pounds and obesity is becoming an issue. Extra weight, or in the worst case, obesity can cause serious health problems for your dog. The extra fat can cause heart and lung problems, strain on the joints, diabetes and a shorter life expectancy. The two main things to watch out for are changes in behavior and changes in physical appearance. Know the signs and check them often, so that you can act fast and put Daisy on a diet.
The Rib Test
One of the best and easiest ways to check if Charlie has got too chunky is the rib exam. First, have a look to see if you can still see a waist curving below the ribs. Then use your hands to feel down the sides of your dog, over the ribs. Take note of what you can feel. Ideally , you should be able to feel the ribs, without seeing them (if you can see your dog’s ribs under its coat, then it’s too thin) If you cannot feel the ribs at all, that means there is an excessive layer of fat which means that Patsy is, indeed, a little plump.
While body shapes vary between breeds, your dog should have a definite upper body, waist and legs. It helps to look at it from above. You should see an hourglass figure with a definite waist. If there is not much definition and your pooch is rather tub-like – this could be a sign that there is a little too much bulge. Other signs to look for are apparent abdominal distension, and fat deposits around the neck, shoulders and base of tail.
Get her on the scales
If you are getting a yearly check-up from your vet, your dog will be weighed at this time. To keep an eye on your dog’s weight, you could weigh monthly at home. Weigh yourself first and then pick up your dog and weigh the both of you to determine their weight. If your dog is too big to pick up, arrange a monthly weigh-in with your local vet. Keep track of the results and watch for any major fluctuations.
Keep a lookout
When you are out for a walk with your pooch, take a look at the way it moves. Is it more like ‘waddlies’ than ‘walkies’? Does he or she seem to struggle when they run, tire easily or have less energy? Loss of breath, once you have ruled out stress or heat, is also a sure sign that Sherlock is out of shape.
Have they lost interest in games like fetch, pursuing cars or chasing tails? These are all good indications of a weight problem. Apathy in your dog could be because the weight keeps them from being active and affects their stamina. Of course apathy could also be a sign of something else, so do take them in for a check-up.
Difficulty scratching or cleaning themselves
Your dog should easily be able to reach those tricky spots when scratching or grooming themselves. If he or she struggles in anyway, this could be another sign that Fido got fat.
Dogs that are hefty usually have problems with their digestion. Constipation, excessive gas and other digestive issues might have their origin in the extra pounds.
Is This Your Dog?
Once you have established that your dog is too bulky, there are number things you can do. Firstly, it’s time for that diet. Find out the ideal weight for your breed. The best way to determine what your dog should be eating is to visit your vet for a checkup and discuss your concerns with them. Your vet will be able to help you choose the right food and the right amounts of food for your pet dog. Lower calorie dog food is available on the market and you can also exercise portion control by feeding it smaller portions and tracking how much it eats. Don’t ever severely restrict your dog’s food and always follow the vet’s guidelines.
Definitely cut out the treats as they are often high in calories. If you are trying to train your dog with treats then consider using praise and a good rub behind the ears, rather than a high calorie treat as a reward.
Remember that as pets get older, they will have different caloric and nutritional requirements, so take that into consideration when formulating the diet plan.
Just important is daily exercise for shedding those pounds. If your dog is really fat, you might have to start off slowly and build up as they manage better. If time is an issue, you could pay a local teenager to walk your dog, or hire a professional dog walker.
As someone once said “If you dog is overweight, you probably need more exercise!”