Is Your Dog Overweight? The Dangers of Dog Obesity
In your eyes, your dog is perfect. After all, dogs are called “man’s best friend” for a reason. Of course we want our dogs to be happy and healthy, but somehow canine obesity has slipped under the radar for many pet owners. Even if Fido lives a relatively active lifestyle, all it takes to gain weight is to consume more calories than he’s burning.
Dogs are considered overweight if they weigh 10-20% above their ideal body weight, and obese when that number is more than 20%. A 2018 survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimates that 55% of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese. (That’s a LOT of dogs.)
With those numbers, there’s a good chance your furry friend could weigh more than what’s ideal for dogs of his breed.
How to Tell if Your Dog is Overweight
Your first instinct may be to set your pet on the scale, but keep in mind that the ideal weight varies by breed. Alternatively, you can opt for some visual cues to determine whether your dog is in danger of becoming obese.
If you’re unsure whether your dog is overweight or not, try the standard rib test: check to see if you can easily feel his ribs when you place your hands at his side. If it’s difficult to feel the ribs, there may be too much fat getting in the way. Some dogs will also have excess fat between their legs or on the tops of their hips, which add some extra wiggle to their walk.
Another method is to look at Fido from above. You’ll want to see a defined waist, similar to an hourglass figure. If your dog is more round and oval-shaped, almost blimp-like, then he’s probably overweight.
Try looking at your dog from the side as well. You’ll want to see an upward-sloping tummy area. If it hangs down lower than the chest, your pooch might be packing some extra pounds.
Dangers of Dog Obesity
We know our dogs are adorable no matter what, so keeping them at a healthy weight isn’t just about appearance. Some extra pounds on your pooch may not seem like a big concern, but the fact of the matter is that even being 10% overweight can predispose your pup to a variety of health conditions, including:
- Skin problems
- Joint problems/mobility issues
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- High blood pressure
- Weakened immune system
- UTI susceptibility
Basically, being overweight has a good chance of decreasing your pup’s lifespan and quality of life. For some breeds, obesity can also lead to back problems, orthopedic issues, and respiratory issues.
The good news is that by helping your pup lose weight, these issues can be reversed, or even avoided altogether.
Importance of Exercise
Regular exercise is good for both your dog’s physical and mental health. If your vet has determined that your dog is in fact overweight, you’ll likely need to start implementing a more disciplined exercise routine for your furry pal.
If Fido is a classic couch potato, start by going on 10-15 minute daily walks, and gradually increase the length over time as he becomes more eager and able. You don’t want to take the fun out of it by overdoing it too quickly. Depending on your dog’s breed and age, you could go on walks up to two hours every day.
You can also keep your dog active by playing games together and/or teaching him some new tricks. If he’s reluctant to exercise, he may be so happy to spend one-on-one time with you that he doesn’t even realize he’s getting a mini workout.
For dogs needing some extra mobility support, PetHonesty’s Hemp Mobility Chews help to ease joint stiffness and enhance joint function and mobility.
Chances are, if your dog is overweight then he’s going to need a change in diet. Don’t just decrease his current food amounts, though—this could result in a malnourishment. Instead, opt for scientifically formulated diet-specific foods to ensure that Fido is getting all of his necessary nutrients.
High-fiber, low-calorie foods are good for weight loss. For some pet owners, a raw diet is the best option. A raw diet isn’t ideal for everyone, though. Be sure to do plenty of research and consult your vet before making any significant changes to your dog’s diet.
Fido may not be too happy about this one, but it’s also helpful to decrease the amount of treats you’re handing out. Treats should take up no more than 10% of your pup’s daily calorie intake. Opt for some dog-friendly vegetables instead, or even PetHonesty’s 10-for-1 Multivitamin Chews.
Questions to Ask Your Vet
Taking breed, age, and underlying health issues into consideration, every dog is different. At every vet visit, it’s a good idea to get into the habit of asking the following questions to get answers personalized for your dog:
- Is my dog overweight?
- How many calories should my dog be eating daily?
- How much weight should my dog lose each month?
- What kind of exercise is appropriate for my dog?
- Is my dog at risk for medical problems?
If your dog is overweight, it’s also a good idea to screen him for any underlying conditions that could be contributing to weight gain or obesity, such as diabetes, Cushing’s Disease, and hypothyroidism. Aging also contributes to weight gain if a senior dog is exercising less frequently due to arthritis or mobility issues.
Keeping your dog’s weight in check will prevent further health issues and improve his quality of life. Besides, dogs with an ideal body weight tend to live two years longer than their overweight counterparts. Who doesn’t want more time with their furry best friend?