As many dog owners know, it’s not always easy to keep your pup at a healthy weight. Dogs are natural grazers and will eat their food quickly if given the opportunity. In addition to providing them with a healthy diet, there are other things that you can do to help manage your dog’s weight and keep him happy! Here is what you need to know about dog obesity and how to manage your dog’s weight safely.
What is Obesity in Dogs?
Did you know that in 2018, an estimated 56 percent of dogs in the U.S. were overweight or obese?
Obesity in dogs is a condition that occurs when the dog’s weight exceeds its ideal body weight. Dogs who are overweight may suffer health problems such as breathing difficulties, arthritis, or heart disease. The most common breeds of dog to have obesity issues are Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers, but any breed can be affected by this problem.
Is Your Dog Obese? Here Are the Signs
Your dog may be obese if:
- Their waistline is thicker than their chest or neck.
- They have a hard time getting up from the ground, like it’s difficult for them to balance themselves when they walk because of excess weight.
- Some parts of their skin are pressing against each other while others seem loose and droopy. For example, if you can feel fat between your fingers as you run them over his body then he might be obese.
You may also notice that your dog has:
- A round belly with no tuck in the abdomen; this could also mean she is pregnant!
- An arched back which results in difficulty breathing or panting normally because her front legs cannot support her weight due to obesity.
It’s a Matter of Calories In & Calories Out
Like humans, dog weight gain or loss is a matter of calories in and out. What does that mean? It means that if your dog is not getting enough exercise, and/or eating too many calories than their body can use up as energy, then they will accumulate fat.
The number of hours spent on a couch watching TV or playing with children does not count as much-needed physical activity for dogs! Exercise makes it easier to maintain a healthy weight because the more you move around (whether it’s walking, running, hiking) the better chance there is of burning excess calories off. And exercising also helps keep muscles strong which can be useful in other ways like preventing injuries from occurring while out on walks or playing with other animals at home.
Now that you know how to manage calories out, let’s talk about calories in. Dog food can be a big part of this equation. When you feed your dog the correct amount according to their size and breed, then they can maintain or lose weight by not overeating on food left out in front of them. Dogs often gain weight because they are given too much food and then don’t get enough exercise.
Healthy weight management starts with understanding how many calories your dog needs every day to maintain their weight, lose weight or gain a little bit of extra pounds because they are underweight. The amount that is right for them should depend on the breed and size (bigger dogs need more energy), but you can always speak to a vet if in doubt. Once you know this number, it’s easier to find out what foods work best for maintaining your dog’s health depending on whether they’re trying to stay at the same weight, lose some pounds or put on a few extra – all without compromising quality of life too much!
Tips for How to Manage Your Dog’s Weight
So, your dog is overweight or obese. Now what? Here are some tips on how to manage your dog’s weight::
First, exercise at least 20 minutes a day. The more you exercise, the easier it is to maintain your healthy weight! Not only is it good for your dog, but it’s also good for you too!
Second, feed them high quality food that meets their needs in terms of calorie content and protein levels based on age and breed. Don’t forget to check the food’s packaging. They usually print suggested serving sizes based on your dog’s age and weight.
Lastly, avoid feeding treats or table scraps as often as possible; this may lead to increased begging for attention from other people which can be difficult if not impossible to control during holidays when everyone’s home. Consider training with positive reinforcement techniques such as clicker training to help make sure they’re always getting what they need (food). Treats should only be given after proper behavior has been established and maintained without any mistakes made for an extended period (a few weeks).
Types of Diets That Are Safe and Healthy for Dogs
New diets should always be done under your vet’s supervision, but here are some types of diets that are safe for dogs:
- Natural and organic dog food; these types of foods have no byproducts or fillers which can lead to obesity and other health issues.
- Low calorie diets that are specially formulated for dogs based on their weight, age/life stage, size, activity level.
- Raw feeding (these often include some types of vegetables) may be worth considering in order to give your pet a more natural diet.
How much is too much? The following list highlights how much you should feed your dog depending on their size:
Little Dogs: up to one cup per day
Medium Dogs: one to two cups per day (depending on breed)
Large Dogs: three cups per day or less if they’re active adults
How to Maintain Weight Loss Once the Goal is Reached
You can help your dog maintain their weight loss by:
- Adding exercise to their schedule.
- Making sure they always have fresh water available (especially when exercising).
- Keeping them away from sugary and processed foods as much as possible. As a rule, if you wouldn’t want it yourself then don’t feed it to your dog either.
And there are some exceptions: dogs love starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes and carrots, so they can be used in moderation with no impact on weight loss goals.
Prolong Your Dog’s Life by Making These Important Changes
According to the AKC, if your dog is only 10% overweight, it can reduce their lifespan by one-third. In addition, it makes them predisposed to many diseases, such as heart and kidney disease. Remember, these new habits will build a new lifestyle for you and your dog. They will improve your dog’s health, and hopefully lead to a longer life in return.
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