Is Your Dog a Happy Healthy Weight?Posted by Suzanne on Mar 29, 2012 in Uncategorized | 2 comments
With the mild winter we are having, spring and summer are rapidly approaching , which of course brings back all the preparations for the swimsuit season. But while there are tons and tons of fitness programs and diets and other fads for humans, what about our furry four legged friends?
Did you know that diet and exercises are super important to your dog’s health and longevity too? Obesity is becoming a growing problem in pets in North America today, and can lead to diseases such as diabetes, liver and pancreatic diseases, and even certain types of cancers? Home Remedies for Overweight Dogs (n.d.)
Do you like taking your dog out for walks at the off leash parks or chase a ball? Does your dog tend to like to jump up on you or other people for greetings? Even activities such as these can greatly increase the chance of injuring a dog’s joints and ligaments beyond repair if your dog is carrying a little extra weight on him. Corpulent Canines (n.d.)
So What Causes Obesity in Dogs?
The most common cause is simply overfeeding your dog combined with a lack of regular exercise. Certain breeds of dogs tend to pack on weight more than other breeds, and older, senior dogs are also more prone to weight gain. Overweight Dogs (2010)
There is also a lot of misinformation as to how to gauge the proper body condition for your dog. Dogs in conformation shows that you see on television are commonly overweight, because they “show” better. Corpulent Canines (n.d.) This is because the extra pounds can easily be mistaken for muscle instead.
Is My Dog Fat?
So how can you tell if your dog is on the chubby side? The best way is to assess your dog’s body condition. Look at him when he is standing from the top down. The profile of his back should have a slight hourglass figure between his ribcage and his hips. In other words, you should see a “waist”. Home Remedies for Overweight Dogs (n.d.)
Secondly, place your hands on either side of your dog’s body. Can you feel his ribs? If you feel his ribs with a thin layer of fat and muscle covering it, he is in a good weight range. If you cannot feel any ribs whatsoever, your dog is overweight. Next, stand to the side of your dog and look at his side profile. Can you see a tuck between his ribcage and his hips? In a dog at a healthy weight this should be visible. Bear in mind that even with some dogs that have a tuck visible, they could still be overweight. The best way to tell is to do the hands on approach and test to see if you can feel his ribs. Overweight Dogs (2010)
Getting Metro Back Into Shape
Before embarking on any diet or exercise program with your dog, be sure to talk with your veterinarian first to ensure that this is a good program for your particular pet. If your pet is relatively healthy, here are some hints and tips to try to get Metro back into a healthier weight.
- Commit to an exercise program with your dog every day. To work both his mind and his body, as many of our own Metropawlitans know, take your dog out for a structured walk for about 60 minutes each day. It’s a safe and easy exercise to do and gives you both a chance for some fresh air. For a more active dog, or for other activities, enroll in a few fun classes with your dog that will get him moving, such as an agility class, a flyball class, or even a tricks class. Want some company and motivation? Our graduates are always welcome to partake in our weekly pack walks with us as well!
- Work with your vet on getting your dog on the right diet program. Bear in mind that the feeding guidelines marked on bags of dog food are just that – guidelines. Always go by measuring your dog’s body condition on a regular weekly basis to help you gauge whether to feed a little more or a little less.
- Educate yourself about the food you are feeding your dog. All the high quality premium foods available out there are extremely nutrient dense. That means that your dog can eat less of it while still getting the proper amount of nutrition he requires to be healthy. Overfeeding this nutrient dense food is one very common cause of why so many dogs are overweight today.
- If your dog isn’t eating – assess his body condition first and foremost. If he’s overweight he might just be full. Don’t force or coax him to eat if he isn’t up to it. Unlike humans, a dog’s digestive tract doesn’t consistently require a set scheduled daily meal. If he doesn’t eat one meal, missing one meal in one day is not going to harm him.
- To help your dog feel fuller during his dieting, _______ recommends to feed a moderately fermentable fibre rather than a high fibre content food. Our favorite source of fibre? Canned pumpkin or squash. The dogs love the taste and it makes them feel fuller without having your dog gaining unwanted calories.
- Commit to making it work. This goes for all members of your household and family. It means sticking to your dog’s diet, and not feeling guilty for not giving him that cookie or those leftovers from your dinner table just because he looks sad.
- It’s all about balance. Monitor your dog’s daily activities along with his diet. Are you taking a training class that uses food? Cut back a half a cup or two of his regular meal to compensate for the extra calories he’s gaining in treats. If life gets busy and you are unable to get out with your dog that day or week, cut back on his food intake so that he’s not eating as much as he would when he’s on an active schedule.
1. ASPCA. ”Overweight Dogs”. www.aspca.com. 19 March 2012. <www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/overweight-dogs.aspx>
2. Freeman, Shanna and Fortney, Dr. William. ”Home Remedies for Overweight Dogs.” www.animals.howstuffworks.com. 19 March 2012. <www.animals.howstuffworks.com/pets/home-remedies-for-overweight-dogs.htm>
3. Zink, DVM. PhD., Chris. “Corpulent Canines?”. www.caninesports.com. 21 March 2012. <www.caninesports.com/fatdogs.html>