Obesity in dogs is a growing concern in North America and it can lead to several diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and arthritis. As you take time to give thanks and gather with friends and family to enjoy Thanksgiving feasts and festivities, please take a moment to consider your dog’s weight and how it impacts their health…before you spoil them with all those leftovers.
How can you tell if your dog is obese?
Your dog is generally described as obese if he weighs 30% more than the ideal weight for his breed. With people, we typically use our height and weight to determine if we’re obese, but in dogs it’s a little different. Since there are so many different breeds and body types in dogs, “body scoring” is often used, in combination with weight charts, for determining obesity in dogs.
Here’s a simplified body scoring chart you can use to help you assess your dog’s weight:
What causes obesity in dogs?
Basically, obesity is an accumulation of excess energy that is stored in the body as fat. This happens when your dog takes in more calories than he expends, and it’s a bit of a vicious cycle. The more overweight or obese your dog is, the less active they tend to be and the less energy (calories) they’ll expend.
If you only feed your dog small amounts of food every day and you’re wondering why he’s overweight or obese, don’t forget about treats and table scraps. These treats can mean a lot of additional calories over time which can cause weight gain.
Hypothyroidism, a disorder in which the thyroid glands (which regular metabolism) are underactive, could also predispose your dog to obesity. If your dog is overweight, contact your veterinarian to test for hypothyroidism before starting a weight loss program.
What can you do to control your dog’s weight?
Thankfully, there are a lot of nutritional options and simple activities you can introduce to your dog to get their weight under control.
First things first, talk to your veterinarian. They’ll help you design a safe and effective weight loss program to meet your dog’s lifestyle.
With a nutritional plan established, it’s up to you to help your dog burn more calories. These activities can be simple – consider a brisk, 30 minute walk twice a day. The bonus here is that you’re also benefiting from the extra activity, too!
Weight reduction is typically 60% diet and 40% activity, and on both accounts it’s diligence and persistence that pay off. So be strong – while those cute puppy eyes are begging for treats, you need to remember that sticking to their nutritional plan is best for their health. Ask your veterinarian which treats you can use to spoil your dog, and how much you can give them. Just like people, portion control is important!