The problem of unhealthy weight gain affects not only us, but also our dogs. Recently, the occurrence of obesity in dogs has become more common, affecting a larger number of canines. Obesity poses a considerable threat to modern civilization, for it carries a lot of serious health consequences. Ensuring that your dog eats a balanced diet and encouraging him to engage in physical activity are two of the key ways that you can help your dog maintain a healthy body weight.
It must be understood that obesity in dogs is a disease and in no way should be underestimated. It is possible that the cause of obesity in your pet does not have to do with the way you are feeding him, but instead is part of a disease pattern. For this reason, if you notice that your dog has gained weight without much reason, you should visit the vet sooner.
The factors causing obesity in dogs are very diverse. Frequently, the diagnosed cause of obesity in dogs is overconsumption of food, but this is only one of many reasons. There are many other causes of obesity, but often they are inadvertently ignored.
Lack of movement amongst dogs is often the reason for the appearance of additional weight within their bodies. Common walks can be too short, limiting the pet’s ability to unload his energy. The problem may also result from a lack of outdoor play. Running together with a pooch and his toy is an excellent way to help him burn calories, keep his body fit and stay healthy. Dogs can run, jump or roll almost limitlessly.
Dogs are in most cases hugely gluttonous. They will eat all the food we give them without hesitation. Hardly any dog will give up the opportunity to eat every last bit of food that is in his bowl, even if he is full. Therefore, dog owners must control the amount of food they serve to their pets. Proper portions should be adjusted to the size of the dog, its age and health status. When deciding to buy a given brand of dog food, it is worth checking its calorific value before making a purchase. A healthy dog diet should be properly balanced and rich in vitamins and microelements. If you are unsure whether your pet’s menu is good, consult it with your vet.
Feeding our pets home-made foods that we eat ourselves is very often the cause of their weight gain. Dog food has caloric content adjusted directly to the age and size of different dogs. Feeding a pooch home-made food is usually much less calculated.
The body weight of a dog often increases with its age. Older dogs have weaker metabolisms than puppies or adults. Additionally, in older dogs we often observe a decrease in motivation for physical activity. These two factors mean that older dogs often struggle with their weight. Even if your dog had a perfect physique when he was young, it is still possible that he will struggle with weight gain in old age.
Overweight often occurs in dogs that suffer from various types of diseases and ailments. Endocrine disorders such as hypothyroidism whose effect, among other things, is the tendency to gain weight are examples of this. Some drugs given to dogs also contribute to weight gain. It is worth asking your doctor about the side effects of a given drug before administering it to your pet. Especially if your dog is inherently predisposed to weight gain.
The treatment of sterilization or castration often results in dogs accumulating unnecessary weight. Deciding on this kind of treatment should be followed with thoughtful consideration regarding a healthy diet. For dogs after castration or sterilization, we should serve slightly less caloric food and be very strict about the set portions of their meals.
Some dog breeds are particularly at risk of obesity. The higher risk group includes, among others: Labradors, Dachshunds, Spaniels and Shetland Sheepdogs. If your dog is such a breed, you should monitor his weight more closely.
A dog’s diet should be adapted to several key aspects of its life. When you decide to buy specific food, it is necessary to check for which dog breeds it is proper. The following should be taken into account:
When feeding your dog store bought food, follow the information provided by the manufacturer on the packaging. Compliance with the recommended dosage and portioning is crucial for maintaining your dog’s correct body weight. Currently, there is a wide variety of dog food to choose from on the market. Producers are competing in composing new flavour variants rich in nutrients.
If your dog is a typical foodie and the daily dose of food suggested by manufacturers is too little for him, you can restructure his routine. Instead of feeding your dog two larger meals with his bowl full to the brim, you can feed him three smaller meals. By eating smaller, but more frequent portions, your dog will feel full throughout the day, not just in the morning and evening.
Movement is health and, above all, an effective way to lose unnecessary weight. This applies not only to people, but also to our four-legged friends. A proper diet provides the foundation for weight management, but with regular physical activity, your dog will return to his original body weight more quickly. As part of your joint activities you can go for long walks and hikes or even try running together. Instead of a relaxing afternoon on the sofa, take your pet to play outdoors. You can read more about dogs and physical activity in our article Sport with a dog.
If your dog is struggling with overweight due to health problems, changing his medication may be the only effective solution. Dogs can react allergically to certain ingredients within medications and this can slow down their metabolism. Hormonal changes can also contribute to dog obesity.
If you are not sure whether the body weight of your pet falls within the norm, you can ask the vet for a consultation. He will check if your dog’s weight is adequate to his size, age and race.
Perhaps your fear that your dog is overweight will turn out to be wrong. Some dog breeds naturally have slightly higher body weights than others. If your dog has a very thick coat, this can also be misleading. Only when bathing your dog, can you see for sure that your canine companion is not overweight.
Obesity in dogs is a very serious problem. Even a few extra bits of weight can interfere with the proper functioning of your dog’s body. If you notice that your dog has become a bit rounder, try to determine the cause and help your companion get back to his healthiest state.