Although a few extra pounds on your pup might seem harmless, obesity in dogs is on the rise and posing serious health problems. Our Groton vets look at the issues surrounding overweight dogs, symptoms, and what owners can do to help their little one's health.
Is my dog overweight?
If you think that your pooch may be on the heavier side, it's time to head to the vet for a checkup. Your vet will weigh your dog, conduct a routine exam to determine their overall health, and then determine if they are overweight based on their heft and breed.
Being overweight for their size and breed can contribute to many serious and painful conditions in dogs. This is why it's vital for dog owners to help their pup's maintain a healthy weight through balanced diet, exercise, and in some special cases, medication.
If you aren't sure whether or not a trip to the vet is called for, here are some signs that will give you a good indication of your furry friend being overweight:
Consider Your Dog's Fitness Level
- Overweight dogs often pant even when walking slowly. They may walk slower or need to take more naps than before. They might also be less inclined to play physical games (fetch, tug of war) as frequently.
Feel For Your Pup's Ribs
- You should be able to feel a healthy dog's ribs relatively easily, without a thick layer of fat over them. Your dog's chest should be wider than their abdomen (hips and stomach), and there will be a noticeable tuck-up from chest to stomach about where their waist is (see illustration below).
Checkout Your Pooch's Figure
- Dogs that are overweight will generally have no visible waistline and no distinction between the chest and stomach from the side:
How can I help my dog lose weight?
Weight gain, sudden or gradual, can be a symptom of an underlying health issue, so if you think that your dog is overweight a trip to the vet is definitely called for. If your vet determines that your pup is overweight and there are no underlying illnesses causing it, they will recommend a diet and exercise plan tailored to your dog's size and breed to help get them back on track to a clean bill of health.
Here are a few things that your vet may recommend to help your four-legged friend lose those extra pounds:
- Stick to a regular exercise schedule for your dog. Go for walks twice a day and play outside once a day. Playing fetch or frisbee can help you and your dog to form a closer bond as well as provide your pup 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 perhaps prescribe a low-calorie diet food. 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). This can also help your dog form healthier eating habits and expectations.
Yearly (or Twice-Yearly) Checkups
- Even if you're sure that there is nothing wrong with your dog, routine wellness exams are crucial. Annual or twice-yearly wellness exams give your vet the opportunity 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.