It’s common to hear about diet plans for humans. There are so many it would be impossible to name them all. Whenever people start packing on some extra pounds, they are quick to research methods to shed excess weight. But while Americans may obsess about their weight, they often fail to recognize that their pets have not only packed on the pounds but have crossed the line to become overweight dogs.
While pudgy pups might be cute, obese dogs face serious health risks. Approximately one in three dogs in the U.S. are overweight. Being just a few pounds overweight can significantly decrease the lifespan and quality of life for your dog. Dog obesity is dangerous. The long-term effects of obesity on dogs range from an increased risk for heart disease and dementia to arthritis.
Is your dog too heavy?
Dr. Martin Goldstein, a world-renowned veterinarian, says, “An overweight cat is considered to be one that is 20 percent, or more, above the normal weight.” This percentage goes for dogs as well. Did you know that over 50% of dogs are considered overweight, and more than 20% are obese?
The easiest way to determine if it is time to put your dog on a new diet plan is a quick checkup with your vet. If the examination isn’t in the cards right now, there are also ways for you to check them at home using the rib test.
To examine your dog, press gently on your dog’s rib cage. You should be able to feel a thin layer of fat covering the ribs. If your dog is a healthy weight, you can see and feel the ribs easily. If you feel a thick layer of fat that requires you to press hard to feel the ribs, then your dog is likely overweight or obese.
Another quick way to examine a canine is to look for a tuck in the dog’s abdomen. The easiest way to do this is for you to sit on the floor with your pet and be at eye level. Study his stomach closely. In healthy dogs, the abdomen should be tucked up higher than the bottom of his rib cage. If your dog’s abdomen presents itself in a straight line rather than tucking upwards, your dog may be obese.
Help your overweight dog
Like humans, our pets gain weight when they consume more calories than they burn off. A few quick tips to help cut calories: use smaller but more frequent meals, pick up food bowls after 10-15 minutes, and choose foods that are higher in protein. You also can buy food formulated to help your pup lose weight.
By knowing how much to feed overweight dogs, you will be able to adjust their meals to their needs. No two pets have the same nutritional needs, and it will take trial and error to ensure that your pet is on the right track.
Also, try increasing your pet’s daily exercise routine. If your furry friend is overweight, you will need to work slowly to increase his stamina. Start with one 20-minute brisk walk a day, then increase it to two, and so on. Purchasing new and exciting toys is another way to get your pet on their feet a little more throughout the day. Our pets need the motivation to be more active just like we do!
Fat dog breeds
If you have a breed that’s prone to weight gain, be careful. Watch the amount you feed and your dog’s exercise levels. It’s easier to maintain a healthy weight than take off extra pounds later.
Help your dog get healthy
By boosting exercise, limiting treats, and feeding your dog a healthy diet, you’ll be able to get your dog in the best shape of her life. Remember, it can take a few months to notice any significant changes. Don’t fret though, be patient and your dog will be ready to hit the dog park and pose for selfies in no time!