By Karen A. Soukiasian
There are three reasons why most puppies and dogs are overweight.
The most common is being over-fed, especially in the “Treat Department.”
The second is being under-exercised.
The third could be an unknown medical problem.
Whatever the reason, an overweight pet could eventually lead to serious health problems such as arthritis, diabetes, pulmonary troubles, high blood pressure, and cardiac issues.
In multiple pet homes, make sure your plump pup, isn’t packing on the pounds, by pinching another pet’s food! Dogs are quite sneaky, and yours may be scoffing up another pet’s meals when you’re not looking.
Most of us believe nothing is cuter than a chunky, little, roly-poly puppy! In part, that is relatively natural, as nature and nurture start to clash. It is reasonable, to want to give your little darling an extra treat now and then. You need to consider their caloric intake versus their activity level. If the puppy is high energy and burns off those extra calories, there’s no problem. However, if the pup is a potential couch potato, it’s time to reconsider the types of food and treats they receive. Chubby puppies, as a rule, become obese dogs!
There are plenty of low and even no-calorie treats — for example, ice cubes. Puppies love ice cubes! It gives them something hard and cold to crunch on while teething, as well as to help soothe those aching gums.
If you don’t want your dog to look like a beach ball, start them on good eating habits while he or she is still a pup.
If you’re not sure if your pet is overweight, here are two ways to find out.
The Rib Test
The easiest way to determine if your pet is getting a bit too plump is to do The Rib Test. It’s as simple as running your hands along their sides. You want to be able to feel their ribs. If you can’t, it’s time to make a few changes to their diet and activities.
The Profile Test
Place your dog in the “stand” position, and view them from the side. What you will be looking for is a clearly defined abdomen. If your dog’s belly is not higher than their rib cage, it’s time to make a few changes to their diet and activities.
Before doing anything, it may be a good idea to have your vet give your paunchy pooch a once over, to make sure no medical issues are causing the weight gain. If there’s no medical reason; they may suggest a change in his or her nutritional regimen, such as a higher fiber, lower fat diet.
Sometimes smaller servings, more often, help your dog stay on their healthy diet, yet feel less hungry throughout the day. Divide up their daily ration to an extra serving or two a day. Being less hungry between feedings, they won’t even notice you’ve cut back a bit!
Set aside a fistful of kibbles from their daily food allowance, and use those as treats.
Add a few carrots or green beans to their meals. They are low in calories, high in fiber and will make your pet feel full faster and longer.
Instead of high-calorie treats, try ice cubes, apples, carrots, green beans, or Cheerios.
Make them work for their treats… do a few obedience exercises or hide their treats and make them search for them. Turn it into a game; your dog will love it!
More exercise. That could be as simple as an extra walk a day. Start with a short, leisurely stroll down the street, or around the block. As your dog’s stamina increases, add an extra block or two and pick up the pace. This special time together is great for bonding, and you may shed a pound or two!
Bottom line: A stocky pet may look hale and hearty, but you’re not doing them a favor. Over-feeding and under exercising can shorten your dog’s life. Be alert to their weight changes. Make the necessary adjustment, and you will enjoy a happier, healthier dog, for a longer time.
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