Just as obesity is a growing problem among humans, it is also a concern with dogs. In fact, between 25 and 40% of dogs are either obese or are on the path to obesity. This is a serious concern, as an overweight dog is more likely to experience health issues such as problems with breathing and walking. In addition, an obese dog is less likely to be able to tolerate exercise or heat. Therefore, it is important to take a few steps toward keeping your dog healthy and trim.
Diagnosing the Problem
Before putting your dog on any type of diet, you should first visit your veterinarian for a thorough examination. It is possible that your pet's excessive weight is caused by an illness that needs to be addressed. Therefore, your veterinarian will need to first conduct some routine blood work, which includes completing a serum profile, a blood cell count and a urinalysis.
Some diseases that can cause your pet to be overweight include:
- Diabetes mellitus - diagnosed by testing blood and urine glucose levels, a process that may require completing a series of blood glucose measurements in order to confirm the diabetes diagnosis.
- Hypothyroidism - diagnosed by testing for hormonal levels.
- Hyperadrenocorticism - diagnosed by testing for the dog's urine cortisol: creating ratio and by completing an ACTH stimulation test, which is a hormone stimulation test.
Changes to body weight associated with these diseases needs to be checked regularly, while regular checkups are also necessary to monitor the medication being used to regulate the illness.
Treating the Problem
In order to change your dog's diet and treat dog obesity, you will need to first assess its current intake of treats, foods and table scraps. You will also need to take a closer look at the amount of exercise your dog is currently getting. If your dog is taking in more calories than it is burning, it will continue to put on excess pounds. Therefore, you will need to look at ways to decrease your dog's calorie intake. If you are feeding treats to your dog, cut those out of its diet and stick only to dog food. You might also need to purchase diet formulated dog food that will help to further decrease its calorie intake. Increasing the amount of fiber or water your dog consumes will also help it to feel full while reducing the amount of calories it consumes.
You can also help your pet lose excess pounds by encouraging it to exercise more often. Taking your pet out for walks or romps in your backyard are good ways to burn off excess calories while also providing you with opportunities to bond with your pet. Many dogs also enjoy going swimming. So, if you live on property with a pond or a creek nearby, encourage your pet to take a refreshing dip in order to burn off extra calories.
While your pet may appear to be "pleasantly plump" to you, those extra pounds can lead to a number of serious health problems that can cost you a great deal of money while also shortening your pet's life. By putting your pet on a healthy diet and exercise plan, on the other hand, you can be certain to enjoy your pet for years to come!
Please note: all dogs should be treated as individuals. The Actijoy™ blog is for educational and entertainment purposes only. In the case of emergency, always seek qualified healthcare from a local veterinarian or emergency facility. Actijoy™ blogs are not designed to treat, diagnose, or prescribe medication for your pet.