Obesity is a dangerous condition in dogs and unfortunately, a very common one. Over 25% of dogs are estimated to be obese, although it is not always easy to recognize obesity in our own dogs, especially when body weight changes happens slowly over time and smaller dogs need only a few extra pounds to be considered overweight.
But because obesity in dogs can put your dog more at risk for a range of other issues like arthritis, kidney disease, liver disease, skin issues, cancer, and diabetes, taking a proactive approach to managing your dog's weight is important.
Steps for Helping Your Dog Control Their Weight
Discussions about your dog's weight should always involve your vet who will have the best idea about the health standards for your breed and also important insight into your dog's individual health condition. In addition to specific recommendations made by your vet, a plan for managing your dog’s weight will often involve:
- Diet Adjustments - The right amount of food provides all the nutrients your dog needs, but too much can lead to weight gain. Keeping to the right portions and scheduled feedings are important weight management, as is limiting treats. Your vet may recommend replacing treats with foods like broccoli and apples. Other tools like a timed feeder can help regulate an eating schedule and a puzzle bowl will slow your dog down as he eats to make him feel satisfied with less food.
- Increase Exercise - Weight gain occurs when your dog is consuming more calories than the energy he is expending. Increasing the amount of exercise in a way that is right for his breed and age will help burn calories and control weight. You will want to start small by adding a short walk around the neighborhood or fetch in the backyard. But as you and he get used to exercising, you can increase this. Hiring a dog walker service can also help your pet get the exercise he needs.
- Consistency - Weight loss is not something that happens overnight and it will take several weeks or even months to get your dog back to a healthy weight. Stay consistent with feeding and exercise routines during this time to avoid slowing down the process.
Keeping your dog at a healthy weight is one of the best things you can do to ensure a long and healthy life for your canine friend. With assistance from your vet, you can make sure your dog gets all the food, exercise, and love he needs.