Obesity in Dogs
An increasing number of people suffer from obesity nowadays and this is also affecting an increasing number of our pets. We often have the tendency to give our trusted four-legged friend food whenever he asks for it or to reward him with treats when he performs a command. Sometimes we like to spoil our pets a bit by giving them treats. But various studies point to the fact that over half of all dogs are overweight. The cause often lies in unsuitable food and lack of exercise.
Obesity in dogs
We speak of obesity when a dog weighs twenty percent more than his ideal weight. A dog is too heavy if his ribs can barely be felt or not felt at all and if the waistline is not visible. Dogs will then eventually suffer problems with their joints, become less active and have little stamina.
Spayed and Neutered Dogs
It is notable that obesity occurs more often in spayed and neutered dogs, due to the change in their metabolism. Older dogs are also affected by a certain type of overweight, due to the fact that they are less active. When the animal’s food is not adapted to the change in situation, the dog can become overweight. Obesity occurs more often in certain breeds of dog such as Beagles, Cocker Spaniels, Cairn Terriers and Labradors.
As in humans, obesity in dogs can lead to a number of serious health problems. The life expectancy of a dog that is too heavy is reduced by two years, on average. Dogs that suffer from obesity are more likely to develop liver or skin problems and heart and vascular diseases. Furthermore, diabetes and serious joint problems occur more often in overweight dogs.
Losing weight for dogs
To enable your dog to lose weight you, as the owner, must make sure they get enough exercise. Most importantly, your dog should have a healthy, balanced diet. To begin with, avoid extras such as sweets, cheese or pieces of meat. Instead, you can reward your dog with other things, such as a toy or a piece of fruit. If you only give your dog less food, the dog will continue to feel hungry, which inhibits their metabolism and does not give lasting results. Weight loss diets, such as Hills dog food, should be adapted to ensure that your pet consumes a lower amount of energy but maintains the same volume of food, without feeling hungry afterwards. In this way, their metabolism is stimulated rather than inhibited, which provides lasting results.
Furthermore, it is important that you frequently take your dog out for exercise. It is advisable to let dogs that are extremely heavy, exercise in water or go swimming, so as not to overburden the joints. For all other dogs, the most effective exercise is ‘trotting’; running alongside a bicycle is ideal exercise.
You should check the weight of your dog frequently during the process of losing weight. It is important that he loses weight steadily, for as long as it takes to reach the desired weight. The optimal weight loss is 1-3% of the total body weight per week. Keep up with the healthy habits after the diet, so that your dog will continue to maintain his ideal weight. Both the quality of his life and his life expectancy will improve enormously. In this way you can enjoy being with your pet even more!
It is always possible to ask your veterinary practitioner for advice and extra tips. It is best to visit your veterinarian if you have any doubts about your dog's weight.