Managing An Overweight Dog
As we approach the end of the year, a trend that usually happens is weight gain. And this does not only happen to us, our canine companions might also follow suit.
To tell if a dog could shed a few pounds, feel around their ribs and spine. You should be able to locate both with only a thin layer of fat separating the skin from the bones. If you can’t find the ribcage, you have an overweight dog.
Ask your veterinarian to evaluate your pooch’s size at every check-up. Once your canine reaches maturity, ask for their optimal weight. As a rule of thumb, 15% above that weight is obese; zero to 15% is overweight. If your dog falls into either category, they are not alone. According to a 2011 study, 53% of dogs are overweight or obese.
Overweight Dogs: Blame the Breed
Some breeds are prone to obesity, while others (Greyhounds, German Shepherds, Yorkshire Terriers), are typically slim.
Small breeds with a propensity for heftiness include:
- Cairn Terriers
- Scottish Terriers
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
- Cocker Spaniels
- Basset Hounds
- Golden Retrievers
- Bernese Mountain Dogs
- Saint Bernards
Diseases related to obesity in dogs
As few as five pounds above the ideal body weight can put your dog at risk for developing some serious medical conditions. Unfortunately, when a dog is overweight or obese it no longer is a question of if your dog will develop a condition secondary to the excess weight but how soon and how serious. Some of the common disorders associated with excess weight include:
- type 2 diabetes
- heart disease
- osteoarthritis (arthritis)
- increased frequency of joint injuries
- high blood pressure
- some forms of cancer - especially intra-abdominal cancers
Overweight and obese dogs usually have shorter lives than their fitter, normal weight counterparts. Heavy dogs tend to physically interact less with their families and are less energetic and playful. Because they tend to lie around more, it is easier to overlook early signs of illness, since we may attribute their lethargy to their normal laziness. There is good evidence that dogs who are a healthy weight live significantly longer than dogs who are overweight.
Tips on How to Manage Dog’s Weight Loss
- Eliminate chance of underlying medical condition
Consulting a professional would identify any chance of an underlying medical condition that is causing or contributing to the dog's excess weight. Some common diseases associated with weight gain include hypothyroidism and hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing's disease). These diseases, along with others, should be eliminated as possible causes or contributors to a dog's weight problem prior to beginning a diet. Too many dogs start on a diet and fail to lose weight simply because the diet was not the problem - a disease was. At the veterinarian’s, a physical examination would be conducted and recommend blood tests done to ensure that there are no obstacles to the weight loss journey.
- Consider a fresh raw diet
Kibble diets tend to be made up of largely carbohydrates which could be causing your dog to gain weight. You might want to consider a fresh raw diet which offers a balanced proportion of protein and carbohydrates. The consumption of nutrient-dense, bioavailable food keeps them satiated for longer, and will help them reduce the overall intake of food. With Benyfit Natural, there are choices of leaner proteins such as turkeyand chicken that you can introduce to your dog as a start.
- Evaluate how much to feed
Apart from ensuring that you are feeding high quality meals, the amount you feed is also important. If you are switching to a fresh raw diet, you should consult with the team on the appropriate amount to feed your dog considering his life stage, weight loss goals and lifestyle. Separately, you should only be aware that treats (given by whole family) count towards your dog's daily calorie intake. Not everyone comes clean when sneaking the cute family pet a snack, especially if there are young children involved. Who could say no to puppy dog eyes?
Nothing beats this traditional way. As the days get shorter and colder, we may be more reluctant to go outside. That includes our pooch. However, there are other creative ways to get everyone on the move. Game of tug or fetch indoors, or making your dog work for its food are all considered as exercise.
- Stay committed and find support
Achieving weight loss for your dog, is essentially a lifestyle revamp for you and your family. Do take things slowly and consistently, in order to break habits like overfeeding. Find support with likeminded people online, speak to your vet or even share your dog's progress on social media.
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
After you have put your dog on a weight loss program, it is critical that you determine if it is working for your dog. In general, your dog should be weighed at least every month until the ideal weight is achieved. Each dog is an individual and may require adjustments in the recommended diet or routine before finding the correct approach. If there is no significant weight loss in one month, (3-5% of the starting body weight), then the program will need to be modified. Sometimes, making only a slight change can deliver significant improvements, such as changing your lifestyle so that your dog would be more active too or minimizing treats and feeding leaner proteins.