Dog Health

Watch out … for that extra flab

It is interesting to know that the disease, which is one of the most common stalkers of humans, is also hunting down our pooches. Yes, we are talking about Obesity. Busy city life hardly spares any moment for us to exercise with our pets. Obesity brings with it several health issues, which need to be tackled properly.

Obesity is the most common health problem amongst civilized breed, be it pets or human. The equation is simple – people feed their pets while eating themselves; they don’t exercise and hence their pets don’t exercise as well. Consequently, dogs and their parents simultaneously drive themselves towards obesity. How can one blame the poor pet who doesn’t know how much is too much? His only fault is loving food! But then, who doesn’t love food!The bottom-line remains that you are entirely responsible for your pet and if your dog is overweight or obese, you are most likely to be responsible for it. So, you might take responsibility for fixing the problem too.Have I put on weight?The all-important question is – how do you decide whether your pet is obese? A simple check up will give you an answer. Run your palm across the chest area of your dog. If you are unable to feel the ribs, your pet is likely to be overweight.

Finding cause to cure!

Reasoning: To prevent your pet from being a victim of obesity, it is important to start determining the factors or causes, which may force your dog into displaying signs of this disease. For pet parents, it is also Dog healthhelpful to know that certain breeds are more prone to obesity. For example, Labradors, Cocker Spaniels, Golden Retrievers, Dachshunds and Beagles are more commonly diagnosed with this disease, as compared to other breeds.

Eating habits: For all those who may complain that your dogs are ‘fussy about food,’ let us deal with your situation first. In other words, these pets are ‘choosy’ about what they want to eat and will not even wish to smell what they do not fancy. Interestingly, even this trait is manmade. In this situation, the pet has been offered with a variety of food items to choose from. Like any child, the dog will, on any given day, prefer these delicacies to healthy dog food and overeat. The solution here is to keep your dog off food that is harmful, right from the very first day. Where the diet is concerned, it is wise that you make the choices, not your pet.

Over indulgence: In most cases though, dogs are smart enough to know how to get their ways. Or, may we say, they know how to make you ‘give in.’ Their most common tactic would be to first soften your heart with those soulful looks and if that does not work, they become more vocal with their tantrums, which include barking, crying, growling, jumping around (or do whatever it takes) to catch your attention, until you submit. Sounds familiar? What happens is that, your pet has been oriented to believe that such behaviour will fetch him a delicious treat. He begins to understand that the treat is a reward, which you are bestowing on him, each time he acts like that. Beware, it is a vicious circle!

Reward good health: What you need to remember is that, your affection for your pet may end up being the cause for his ill-health and consequently, his suffering. Even though it hurts to be harsh on your adorable buddy, but it is in his interest only. Let your pet ‘earn’ his treat. Reward him with a treat for playing, exercising or performing a similar activity. This will ensure that your dog is staying healthy, despite the indulgence. It is also a good idea to substitute treats with other things for rewards. New toys, grooming sessions and outdoor games can make your pet feel equally special. In fact, it is perhaps your ‘attention,’ that is likely to be your pet’s favourite reward!

Believe it or not: Some parents of obese pets may argue that they have never encouraged over-eating and they give them a healthy and strict diet. There are a few ‘unassuming’ factors, which play tricks on your mind and on your pet’s belly. If your pet has food lying around for him all day, he is encouraged to nibble at it from time to time. Sometimes, dogs overeat, simply because they have nothing much to do and find eating a good way to pass their time and overcome boredom! So, here’s another reason to keep your pet involved in an activity. Besides, it is also true that dogs who live amongst other dogs or pets, end up eating more. They tend to guzzle large volumes of food, as quickly as they can. Thus, it is advisable to feed your pets separately, so that they do not eat each other’s food.

Healthier and happier doggies

Nonetheless, whether your dog is obese or not, planning and adhering to a healthy and strict diet, it is imperative to ensure for him, a happier and longer life. Also, let your vet examine him for any medical problem, which may be a cause of weight gain.

Food supply: The first step towards this effort requires one to determine how much food your pet needs in order to remain healthy. This quantity will be established by consulting a veterinary doctor. The factors normally taken into consideration for this purpose will include – the frame of the dog; the amount and kind of activities he indulges in and the type of food that the dog is normally fed at home. Always serve the recommended diet in the right quantity.

Meal management: In combination with the above principle, it is also important that certain ‘rules’ be established and followed, to avoid unnecessary consumption. Firstly, it is better to feed your pets three or four small meals in a day, rather than one or two big meals. Secondly, if you like to treat your pet with snacks frequently in a day, then the main meal time must consist of very small amount of food. Thirdly of course, avoid offering table scraps to the longing eyes and wagging tail.

Strict No-No to junks: Ensure that your drooly dear has his own meal. It will be difficult but keep the sumptuous snacks during a party away from him and treat him with his healthy food/treats. These small things will go a long way in taking care of him. Make him feel special with love, and interactive play.

Ensuring weight loss: In consultation with your vet, determine a healthy eating pattern and then monitor your pet’s weight over a period of time. Other than laying emphasis on the eating patterns, the crucial need for adequate exercise also cannot be ignored for the health of your pet. Walking your dog regularly, for instance, is one of the most effective ways to weaken the chances of obesity taking a toll on his health. Again, depending on your pet’s body frame and food intake, appropriate forms of exercise should be administered in consultation with your vet.

As insignificant as it may seem, obesity needs to be recognized as not just a ‘problem,’ but a ‘disease,’ and weight-related issues of our pets need to be addressed seriously. Because after all, if we love our pets, there is no reason why we should contribute to shorten their life span.

– by Manta Sidhu

 


Obesity… and more! Do not ignore the fact that corrective measures, if not implemented on time, can lead to irreversible problems that will cause a setback in the life of your pet. Huge risks that are commonly associated with obesity in pets include diabetes mellitus, heart related problems, damage to joints, bones and ligaments, difficulty in breathing, decreased stamina, etc.

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