It’s an unfortunate fact that over 40% of our pet dogs are overweight or obese. The excess weight they are carrying not only reduces their quality of life, but also the length of that life.
Many of the problems that an overweight human has to deal with also occur in our dogs.
One of the most significant effects obesity has on a dog’s body is the increased stress on the joints . The more weight the joints have to carry, the more wear and tear on those joints. The end result is pain and difficulty in moving around.
There is a connection between obesity and the health of your dog’s heart. If your dog is a bit on the heavy side, the heart has to work a lot harder to push the blood through his body. Hypertension, or increased blood pressure, is also directly linked to obesity in dogs. The end result is heart disease, and an increased risk of heart attack.
Overweight dogs are also more prone to sleep apnea. This is a condition in which your dog has difficulty breathing while he’s asleep. Diabetes is more common in obese animals, and an increase in weight can play havoc with regulating a diabetic dog’s blood glucose levels. You can try an all natural supplement like Sleepytime Tonic if your dog is having trouble sleeping (or if you are having trouble sleeping!)
There is another condition we may not always associate with obesity in dogs, and it too can make them quite uncomfortable. Overweight animals often have more skin folds than a lean dog. These folds can trap dirt and debris, and this may lead to skin irritation and scratching. If moisture accumulates in these folds, bacteria and fungi may grow and cause skin infections which can be painful. Click here to read more about caring for wrinkly dogs.
Why Is It So?
There are several causes of obesity in dogs, and you may need help from your vet to determine which is the cause of your dog’s weight problem.
One of the most common causes is simply over eating. All dogs need to eat a certain number of calories per day. This number varies depending on factors such as their breed, size, age, and level of activity. For instance, the more active your dog is, the more calories he will need to eat to provide energy and maintain his body condition. Some dogs just eat too many calories, and don’t use them up by exercising, so the excess is deposited on their waistline.
If a dog has a fast metabolism, it uses up calories very quickly, so it can cope with an increase in food without putting on weight. Dogs with slower metabolisms aren’t so fortunate, and you need to watch closely how much you feed them. Neutering does slow a dog’s metabolism, so a neutered dog won’t need as many calories after their little operation.
There are some medical conditions that can cause your dog to gain weight. Hyperthyroidism and Cushings Disease are two such conditions, and can be diagnosed with a blood test.
Let’s Move That Weight!
There are a few logical steps to getting your dog back to a healthy weight.
Firstly, take him along to your veterinarian for a full checkup. If there is a medical reason for his obesity, you’ll have to deal with that before you try any other strategies.
If all is okay, then look at what he’s eating. You need to feed him a good quality balanced diet with a low fat content. Many dog foods have a feeding guide on the packet, however it’s better to “feed to condition”. If you’re feeding the recommended amount, and your dog is too heavy, then that’s obviously too much for your individual dog. Feed the amount of food that keeps him in good lean condition, even if it is less than the pet food manufacturers recommend. While he’s losing the weight, skip any table scraps or between-meal snacks – they all add to the calorie count.
The other important part of weight loss is exercise. This can be difficult, because a heavy dog often has sore legs, and doesn’t want to walk very far. Swimming is an excellent exercise for an overweight dog, because he can burn calories without putting any weight on his legs. You may also be able to find a dog physical therapist who has an underwater treadmill, so your dog can walk while his body is supported by water. Read more about caring for a dog that likes to swim.
While you’re working hard to help your dog lose that excess weight, don’t forget to treat any obesity related conditions, so he feels more comfortable. Joint Resolution contains natural ingredients to help restore damaged cartilage and reduce wear and tear on his joints.
If you do find any moist itchy skin folds, the colloidal oatmeal in Comfy Dog Shampoo will soothe inflamed skin and make your dog feel so much better. It doesn’t lather excessively, which makes it easy to work into those skin folds, and easy to rinse off. Click here to read more about colloidal oatmeal.
Your dog didn’t gain his excess weight overnight, and he won’t lose it quickly either. Be strong and stick to your plan, and you’ll both enjoy a longer, healthier life together.
DOG for DOG is an all natural dog food and treat company with a mission to help dogs in need. You buy one we give one! 52,000 pounds were donated in 2013