Caring for overweight

Excess weight is a common problem for dogs. But, as with humans, it’s better and healthier for a dog to be of normal weight than to be overweight. A quick way to check if your dog is overweight is to feel his ribs with the flat of your hand. If you can only feel the ribs with difficulty, your dog probably needs to lose weight.

How dogs become overweight

Dogs nearly always become overweight from eating more food than they need, and then not getting enough exercise. Calories in the food they eat, which aren’t used for daily activities, are stored as fat. Overeating may result from greediness, boredom, or overfeeding. Feeding leftovers or giving frequent snacks or treats often contributes to the excess weight problem. Over-fed puppies tend to become overweight dogs, and also have a greater risk of developing orthopaedic problems. If you feed your puppy correctly when he’s young, he’ll be less at risk of having weight problems later in his life. Occasionally, metabolic disorders can also make a dog overweight. If your veterinarian suspects a metabolic disorder is causing your dog to gain weight, he or she will test for that disorder.

Why your dog should lose weight

Being overweight is a real danger to your dog’s well being. It may shorten his life, here are some of the problems an overweight dog may come down with or aggravate:

  • Problems of movement, including arthritis, hip dysplasia, spinal disc problems and rupture of joint ligaments.
  • Decreased exercise tolerance.
  • Liver disease.
  • Diabetes mellitus.
  • Surgical and anaesthetic risk.
  • Heat intolerance.
  • Poor coat and skin condition.
  • Lowered resistance to infectious diseases.
  • Respiratory disorders made worse.

Helping your dog lose weight

Weight loss for most dogs involves increased exercise and eating food with fewer calories. It’s usually easier to feed normal amounts of a low-calorie diet than to feed much smaller amounts of a regular diet. Plus, your dog will not feel as hungry. Your veterinarian can help with advice and special diets, but achieving success is up to you and other members of your family. It will take effort and commitment, but this is well worth it in terms of the quality of life, health and companionship your dog and you will enjoy. Dieting for dogs

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