Like human beings, pets can also develop excess body fat and become obese. This can lead to serious health problems, including degenerative joint disease and diabetes. To provide your furry friend with the best quality of life as well as to increase his lifespan, make sure to prevent your dog from becoming obese.
Dogs gain weight because of a lack of exercise and overfeeding. But obesity can also be caused by serious health problems like hypothyroidism and other hormone-related problems. A dog with hypothyroidism will gain weight even without eating more than usual. Regardless of what causes obesity in your canine, secondary diseases can develop when this is left untreated.
So here are some important tips to help keep your dog within his optimum weight:
1. Monitor Your Dog’s Weight Regularly
It is quite easy for you to gain a few pounds and not notice it until you’re wearing something you haven’t worn in a while. So it’s even harder to notice weight gain in your dog.
Of course, you need to know your dog’s ideal weight. Vets emphasize that ideal weight in dogs is not determined by a number but rather by a certain ratio. They need to have a defined waist and rib section that are easily felt but not seen. Your dog’s vet should be able to help you determine his ideal weight and height on your next visit.
By weighing your dog routinely, preferably using the same scale and at the same time of the day, you’ll be able to notice weight increase or decrease before it leads to a more serious problem. And once you know your canine friend’s weight, regulate it accordingly.
2. Provide Exercise
Exercise is essential for your dog’s physical and mental health. But it needs to be more than just a short walk. Though a leisurely stroll is nice, power walking may be necessary if you want your dog to lose weight.
A pace of 15 minutes per mile for at least 20 minutes is highly advised. Also, avoid stopping for all the markings and sniffing that might slow down your walk.
Aside from burning calories, exercise can also strengthen the circulatory and respiratory systems of your canine, help get oxygen to their tissue cells, keep their mind active, aid in digestion, and keep their joints flexible and muscles toned.
3. Give the Right Type and Amount of Food
Dogs will need various types and amounts of food, depending on their life stages. Puppies will require more protein, minerals, and energy-dense food than older dogs. Pregnant and nursing dogs also require increased minerals, energy, and protein. But for “couch potato” dogs, they have lower energy needs like older dogs even when they remain active.
There are some dogs that can regulate their intake while others eat anything and everything they see. Generally, it is best to give food as meals instead of always giving them snacks throughout the day. By doing so, it will be a lot easier for you to monitor your canine’s intake.
Always bear in mind that every dog has a different activity level and body type, and all these must be considered when buying your pet food online and setting the pace of their diet.
Feeding them scheduled meals instead of free-feeding them is highly recommended because this will give you full control over the amount of food your pet eats. If, for instance, you notice that they are still hungry, try adding fresh, steamed green veggies like beans. These are great sources of fiber and vitamins with almost no calorie content.
Once you notice that your dog is becoming overweight, you do not necessarily need to change their diet. Vets generally advise pet parents not to change their pet’s food unless they are experiencing other issues.
Also, make sure to account for all the treats you are giving them. Remember that guidelines you see on the pet food bags are just recommendations, so do not be afraid to experiment with your dog and see what will work best for him.
4. Treat Possible Contributing Factors or Diseases
Though most weight gain in dogs is mainly due to exercising too little and feeding too much, there are some medical conditions that can significantly contribute to obesity. Most of these are actually treatable.
So when your dog has an unexplained weight gain or a sudden increase in appetite, get your canine examined by your trusted veterinarian. This is the best way to make sure that his obesity is not caused by any pre-existing health problem.
It might be tempting to spoil your dog with extra servings of food but you must consider the negative consequences your furry pal may face as a result. To ensure your pet lives a long, happy and healthy life, be choosy about the type and amount of food you feed him, and consult with the vet on how you can keep him fit and strong.
Author Bio: Farah Al-Khojai is the Managing Partner of Pet’s Delight. A passionate entrepreneur, Farah holds a Bsc in Government from the London School of Economics. She is always on the lookout for new opportunities to develop and grow the pet and equestrian retail and wholesale market in the UAE and beyond, and is proud to be at the helm of the first and the largest pet care provider in the market representing world-class brands including Origen, Applaws, Hunter, Savic, Flamingo, Ruffwear, and Rogz.