It might not seem like it but obesity in dogs can be deadly. It can greatly shorten our dogs’ lives, cause chronic inflammation and pain that makes daily life for your pup difficult.
Thankfully, obesity can be prevented and fat dogs can lose weight with the right amount of care and adjustments to their diet and lifestyle. It can be easily overlooked especially in big families where it’s tough to keep track of how much table scraps your dog is sneaking, but it’s absolutely vital to get everyone on the same page and keep an eye on your dog’s weight to prevent obesity.
The Problems with Dog Obesity
Excessive dog weight can lead to many health problems for your pup.
For one, being overweight puts extra stress on your dog’s joints, causing joint damage and osteoarthritis. But it’s not just joint problems your pup will have to worry about.
Being just 10% overweight has the potential to decrease your dog’s lifespan by at least one third. This is largely due to the fact that obesity predisposes your pup to serious health conditions like heart, kidney and liver disease. It also has the potential to cause diabetes and cancer.
Today, most dogs no longer work - they don’t have to herd cattle or hunt to survive. As such, it’s easier for them to consume too many calories and gain extra weight. Obesity is also a vicious cycle - as your pup gains weight, they experience reduced energy and exercise less.
How To Tell If My Dog Is Obese
So how can pet parents determine if their dog is obese? There are a few tests that you can perform at home to assess this.
The Rib Test
One way to track your pup’s weight is through the rib test. To perform it, follow these steps:
- Stand behind your dog
- Gently run your hands along their rib cage
You should ideally feel, but not see, each rib. The area in front of your dog’s hind legs should also be tucked up and their waist should be visible. If you don’t see it, it’s time to hit the park with your pup!
The Standing Test
Another method to test your dog’s weight is the standing test.
- Lean down and look at your dog’s side profile
- Look at their body from above
Your dog’s side profile should show that his body shape is wider at the chest and thinner at the abdomen or stomach. If you do not see his abdominal area tucked up, he may be overweight.
Conversely, if you’re viewing your pup from above, make sure to keep an eye out for the shape of their waist. It should taper into an hourglass-like shape in front of their hips.
It’s important to also note that dogs can vary wildly in shape and volume of fur. It’s important to take into account their breed and how they normally look before comparing your pup.
Preventing and Reducing Obesity
If you’re worried about your dog’s weight, here are some things you can do to help a dog lose weight or prevent obesity in the first place.
#1 Get The Right Food
Obesity starts from the stomach - in fact, some experts say doggy weight loss is 60% diet and 40% exercise!
The type of food your pup eats can greatly affect their weight. Depending on your dog’s age, breed and lifestyle, you may need to adjust their diet accordingly. Make sure to research your dog’s brand of food and select an appropriate one.
For example, puppies need specially formulated puppy food like Royal Canin’s Puppy Dry Food as it provides the right amount of protein and nutrition for puppies.
It’s also important to ensure that your pup is still getting sufficient nutrients and protein even on a low fat dog food diet.
#2 Portion Their Food
It can be hard not to overfeed your pup - especially when they hit you with those puppy eyes! However, portion control plays a very important part in helping your dog maintain their ideal weight.
Make sure to follow the guidelines set by your selected food brand. Most commercial dry dog food packages will have feeding guidelines printed on the back and will vary according to your dog’s weight and size.
Having a smart feeding bowl like PetKit’s Fresh Pet Smart Dog Bowl can make portion management a breeze. Just input your pet’s basic profile like their weight and the type of food they eat and the bowl instantly calculates the right feeding amount for your pup!
It may also be tempting to feed your dog table scraps or treats but these can also contribute to your pup gaining excess weight. You can reduce the amount of treats you give your dog or feed them healthier and more nutritious snacks like boiled carrots and other veggies. Inaba’s Low-fat chicken Fillet & Vegetables Wet Dog Food also makes for a tasty replacement meal.
#3 Dog Exercise!
Us pet parents can skip a gym day or two, but not our dogs! Depending on your dog’s breed, they may need anything from 30 minutes to 2 hours of exercise every day.
If you’re up for it, definitely consider increasing the duration of their walks. High-intensity activities like going for a jog with your pup can also supplement their active lifestyle.
Of course, you should also check with your veterinarian to see if your pup is suitable for high-intensity activities. You can also add a dog joint supplement like NaturVet’s Double Strength Hip & Joint Dog Supplement to your pup’s diet to help strengthen their joints and alleviate pain as you try and help them exercise more.
You can also give your pup plenty of play time at home. Play fetch with Kong’s AirDog Squeakair Ball Dog Toy and other games that can help your pup get moving!
Dog obesity can be prevented and can definitely be corrected! If your dog is prone to joint problems, you may have already noticed your dog limping as their weight increases. The stress of this excess weight will not be kind to your pup’s joints and in the long run may cause them plenty of pain and health problems.
Keeping your dog’s weight at an ideal amount is all about adjusting yours and their lifestyle - so pick the right food for your pup and give them plenty of exercise! Your dog will be healthy and fit as a fiddle in no time!
Tammi is an avid writer, but especially loves learning and writing about animals! She spends her free time visiting cat cafes, playing video games and having plenty of cuddle time with her pup.