Obesity in dogs is on the rise and poses a serious health risk to our canine companions. If your dog seems extra cuddly it may be carrying a little too much weight. Today our Benicia vets explain how you can tell if your dog might be overweight, and what you should do.
Is My Dog Overweight?
If you think that your canine companion may be overweight it's time to head to the vet for a checkup. Your veterinarian will weigh your dog, perform a thorough examination to determine your dog's overall health, then let you know if your dog is overweight based on its breed and build.
Carrying excess weight can be a contributing factor to many serious and painful conditions in dogs. This is why it's so important to help your dog maintain a healthy weight throughout their lifetime.
If you aren't sure whether a trip to the vet is called for, here are some signs that will give you a good indication of whether or not your dog is carrying extra weight.
Consider Your Dog's Fitness Level
- Overweight dogs often pant even when walking relatively slowly, and may walk slower or need to take more naps than before.
Feel For Your Dog's Ribs
- If your dog is a healthy weight you should be able to feel their ribs without a thick layer of fat over them. Your dog's chest should be wider than its abdomen, and there will be a noticeable tuck-up from chest to stomach about where its waist should be (see illustration below).
Checkout Your Dog's Figure
- Dogs that are overweight will generally have no visible waistline and no distinction between the chest and stomach when viewed side-on. See the illustration below to get a better understanding of how your dog should look from the side.
How Can I Help My Dog Lose Weight?
Weight gain can be a symptom of a serious underlying illness, so if you think that your dog is overweight a trip to the vet is called for. If your vet determines that your dog is overweight and no underlying illnesses are causing the weight gain, they will recommend a diet and exercise plan to help get your dog's weight back on track safely.
Here are a few things that your vet may recommend to help your four-legged friend shed those extra pounds.
- Keep to a regular exercise schedule for your dog, including going for walks twice a day and playtime outside once a day. Playing fetch or frisbee can help you and your dog to form a closer bond as well as provide your dog with a fun way to burn a few extra calories.
Diet & Feeding
- Your vet will be able to calculate just the right number of calories to feed your dog at each meal and prescribe a low-calorie diet food to help your dog reach a healthier weight. Be sure your dog eats at the same time every day, and that you measure out the portions carefully based on the ideal weight for their breed (or size).
Yearly (or Twice-Yearly) Checkups
- Even when you're sure that there is nothing wrong with your dog, routine wellness exams (physical checkups for your dog) are important. Annual or twice-yearly wellness exams allow your vet to monitor your pet's weight and spot the early signs of illness so that conditions can be treated before they become more serious.
If your dog begins following a weight loss plan, visit your vet for follow-up appointments so that your pet's progress can be monitored and dietary adjustments made if necessary
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.