Chubby pups are cute. Unfortunately, those extra pounds of cuteness put your dog at risk for a variety of health issues. Keeping your dog at a healthy weight is vital to making sure they live a long and happy life.
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Is My Dog Overweight?
So, how do you know if your dog is overweight? The statistics on canine obesity are staggering. Through a survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention in 2018, it was discovered that an estimated 56% of dogs in the United States are overweight. Take a look at your furry friend. Is you dog one of the pups that is overweight? Read on to find out how to determine whether your dog is overweight and how you can help if the answer is yes.
How to Tell if Your Dog is Overweight
The standard for healthy weight depends on your dog’s breed. Even within the breed, there is not a generic solution to determining your pup’s best weight. There are several ways to determine the ideal weight for your dog. You can find lots of overweight dog charts online that break it down by breed. You can use a body mass index (BMI) calculator. Or, you can measure rib cage coverage.
The BMI Calculator
One way to figure out if your dog is at an unhealthy weight is to use a body mass index (BMI) calculator. Dogs are typically considered to be overweight when they weigh anywhere from 10-20% above their ideal body weight. They are considered to be obese when they weigh over 20% above their ideal body weight.
Another way to figure out if your dog is overweight is by measuring rib coverage. Hold your right hand palm facing down and using the flat parts of your left hand fingers, feel your knuckles. This is how your dog’s ribs should feel right behind their shoulder blades. Rib coverage is also a good way to measure the progress of weight loss between weigh-ins.
Why Does Your Dog Get Fat After Being Spayed or Neutered?
After dogs have been spayed or neutered, their metabolism tends to slow down and they experience a reduction in hormones. Both of these things can result in weight gain and obesity if unchecked. Proper diet and exercise will mitigate this in your spayed or neutered pup.
Do Certain Dog Breeds Become Overweight?
Some breeds have a predisposition towards obesity, while other breeds, such as sighthounds, seam to be more resistant to weight-gain. The following breeds tend to be more prone to obesity.
- Basset Hounds
- Cairn Terriers
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
- Cocker Spaniels
- Labrador Retrievers
- Scottish Terriers
- Shetland Sheepdogs
Overweight Dog Symptoms
Obesity can be an indicator of other health issues such as an underactive thyroid or overactive adrenal glands. Your dog does not have to be extremely obese to be at risk for health problems. Even a few extra pounds over the ideal weight can cause problems. As little as five pounds above the ideal body weight can put your dog at risk for developing serious conditions. Once your dog becomes overweight or obese, they will be at a higher risk of developing secondary problems including the following conditions.
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Joint injuries
- Respiratory issues
What to Do if Your Dog is Overweight
Dogs gain and lose weight just like people do. Weight gain is usually caused by either eating too much food or not getting enough exercise, or a combination of both. The good news is you can put your pup on a healthy path by making an effort to feed them the appropriate type and amount of food and providing them with plenty of opportunities for exercise.
How to Put Your Dog on a Diet
The best thing to do is to slowly transition your dog’s food from the old food to the new food. A good way to do this is by mixing the food, putting in more and more of the new food over a week or two until the transition is complete. However, if the problem is serious, an immediate switch may be required. As always, make sure to talk with your vet before making any changes to your dog’s diet!
How Much Should You Feed an Overweight Dog?
What are you are feeding your dog on a daily basis? Do you toss table scraps your pup’s way at every meal? One of the best ways to help your dog lose weight is to reduce the amount of people-food you give them. It may be hard not to indulge a pup that is begging for table scraps, but it is better for them in the long run to control this habit. Stay vigilant when it comes to your dog’s weight because obesity leads to serious health conditions.
Do you feed your dog lots of treats in addition to daily meals? Count the number of treats you are giving them each day. You can easily reduce your pup’s daily calorie intake by decreasing the amount of treats you give them.
Overweight Dog Food
Do not just reduce the amount of food you are feeding your dog. Instead, feed your dog a diet of foods rich in vitamins and healthy ingredients with less calories per serving. Discuss your dog’s diet with your vet to make sure you are on the right track.
When you start feeding your dog a new food, make sure you keep it consistent. You can try replacing your dog’s second meal of the day with a mixture of vegetables like green beans, low fat dog food, and a multivitamin supplement that is specially formulated for dogs. There are even some dog foods made especially for weight loss. Your vet can help you determine the best food for weight loss for your dog.
What Else Can You Do to Control Your Dog’s Weight?
Exercise is just as important as diet for your dog’s overall health and weight control. You and your furry friend can opt to get fit together, by going hiking, running, and other outdoor activities. If you prefer to stay indoors or just do not have time to take your dog out as often, make sure to give them room to run around and indoor playtime to help get them exercising.
Although running is an excellent activity to keep both you and your pup healthy, make sure to talk to your vet and consider your dog’s age and activity needs. Some younger puppies as well as older dogs can get injured with excessive running on hard surfaces.