There has been a joke on several sitcom TV shows in which each family member leaves the house at a different time and upon seeing an empty dog dish refills it. Although a fat dog may be humorous in a fictional context, there is nothing funny about obesity in dogs in real life. Because the shape of each breed varies, be sure to check with your vet about whether your dog appears to be overweight or too thin.
Feeding the Proper Amounts
The most important aspect in determining your animals weight is how much you feed her. Some dogs will eat as much food as you give them, and you may feel inclined to refill their bowl after they eat their measured amount of food. There’s no doubt you have good intentions and love your pet by doing this, but it isn’t good for their overall health. For dogs who don’t eat all their food, it’s recommended to take the dish away when they are finished and start feeding them less at a time but more often throughout the day. What’s important is to understand your dog and make sure she eats the proper amount for her breed and size over the course of the day.
Just like people, dogs need exercise to remain healthy. Some just need a little playtime in your living room, others may may need to run either in a fence or on a leash. Again, the breed is a large part of determining how much exercise the dog needs, but they will let you know if they aren’t getting enough. The easiest way to tell if a dog isn’t getting enough exercise is when she engages in problem behavior.
Specific Issues Associated with Obesity
Obesity in dogs causes many of the same health issues as it does in humans. Some of the first symptoms you may notice are difficulty breathing, reduced stamina, skin and hair problems, or an aversion to heat. As the dog gets heavier, more health risks become common:
Digestive disorders including constipation and gas.
Diabetes as a result of not producing enough insulin for their body mass.
High blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease.
Joint and bone damage from supporting the excess weight.
What to Do if Your Dog Is Overweight
Once your dog has become overweight, the treatment is very similar to what a person would do to lose weight. The dog needs a stricter diet and more exercise. Unfortunately, a dog doesn’t understand the need the way a human does, so the routine may be a bit difficult. Serving a better quality food in slightly decreasing portions is something you can control, forcing a dog to exercise more can be a bit of a trick.
Visit us at SAGE Centers for Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Care to learn more about the proper diet for your animal!