Is your dog overweight? Canine obesity is a growing problem. At least 25 percent of all dogs are overweight. Many owners think that a dog in the recommended weight range is too thin and that a plump dog is just right. Wrong.
How to measure what's overweight. Considering the animal's weight in just pounds and ounces is not an ideal way to measure fitness. Different breeds have different ideal weights. A better method of measurement is to touch and to look. Examine your dog's ribs and waist. On a dog at the correct weight, individual ribs can be easily felt and the abdomen is slightly sucked in when viewed from the front and side. Your veterinarian can assist you with this assessment.
Cause. The main reasons for obesity in dogs is an excess of calories and lack of physical activity. Endocrine problems, such as diabetes, hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease, can result in weight gain but are rare causes for obesity.
Diagnosis. A physical examination and thorough history help identify patterns that lead to weight gain. A blood test is frequently recommended to rule out an underlying disease.
If the examination and blood test are normal, your dog's eating habits will be assessed. What kind of dog food does your pet eat? When and how much? Is your dog given treats and table food? How much exercise does your dog get each day?
Going on a diet. Just cutting out table food and treats may work sometimes, but more often a therapeutic diet with exercise is needed. An overweight dog is at higher risk for diabetes, arthritis and becoming obese.
Stick to the plan. Hard as it might be to withhold the treat or the tidbit from the table, owners must be willing to stick to the plan. Weight must be monitored frequently and the dog's diet readjusted as needed. Many dogs require as long as a year to reach their target weight. As with humans, nutritious food in the proper quantity and exercise are important for pets to have a long and healthy life.