These days, so many of us have become weight conscious. We understand the benefits of maintaining our weight, which includes our heart health, better stamina and more energy. Sometimes however, as dog owners, we may not notice when our usually healthy pet starts to put on the pounds. In many cases, it can turn into canine obesity. Canine obesity, as with obesity in humans, carries with it a host of health problems that can slow a dog down prematurely. The Veterinary Medical Association, (2007) reports that nearly half of all dogs in the U.S. are overweight, while another 25% are considered obese.
Canine obesity can cause high blood pressure, constipation and a lowered immune system. On a more serious note, diabetes can strike dogs, as well as humans. Canine obesity will cause your dog to increase insulin output to match increased glucose production. Diabetes Mellitus will make your dog more susceptible to infection. Canine obesity can also lead to bone and muscle damage. An overweight dog is more likely to suffer hip dysplasia and arthritis. Pain from this damage, and the extra weight, are difficult on your dog. Inactivity and fatigue will only assist in adding on more weight.
How can we help our dog maintain a healthy weight and avoid health problems? Following these simple tips can keep your dog fat free and full of energy! The most important step to take is a visit to the vet with your dog. The vet will give your dog a check up and help you plan a healthy weight loss program, which should include a fat reducing diet. There are so many brands of dog food to choose from on the store shelves, but which brands are low in fat and healthy for your dog? The vet can help you make the right choices for your dog, and set feeding schedules that will work for your particular dog. Your vet will also address any other health problems your dog may have. Veterinary visits and treatment for your dogs’ health problems can cost quite a bit these days, so having a healthy dog pays off in so many ways. Taking care of these health issues now will ensure your dog is healthy enough for the next tip; play time and exercise.
Most of us work for a living, gone from home for eight hours or more many days. Dogs can spend the entire day laying around waiting for you to come through that door. What have they done all day? Sleep, most likely, eat, and sleep some more. Older dogs, especially, are prone to put on weight from inactivity. Plan a daily walk that includes at least fifteen minutes of just that, walking. It’s good for you as well! Even if you have a fenced in yard and let your dog run free, still put your dog on a leash and head out. By doing this, your dog has to move, not just lie under the shady tree and snooze! Play time is important as well. Your dog loves it and it gets a dogs’ adrenaline going. Toss the ball, play chase, or teach your dog a new trick.
Table scraps are not good for your dog. Once in awhile it may be alright to treat your dog to a special morsel from the dinner table, but if your dog is eating people food more than his own food, weight gain will always be a problem. Your dog will also end up lacking certain nutrients he needs for energy and health. It may be hard to get your dog on a more appropriate diet in the beginning, but it’s important to stay disciplined. Slowly add the healthy dog food to the table scraps to help your dog adjust to the taste. Add a bit more dog food to the scraps every other day until its all healthy dog food. Watch what dog treats you give your pet as well, and limit how many they get each day. Read the box label for ingredients, including fat content.
Keep in mind that a sudden, unexplained, weight gain and swelling can be a sign of something serious, so get to the vet right away. A healthy dog is a happy dog. Following these simple tips will lead to a better quality of life, a longer life span, and lower future care costs for your dog!