Three Steps to Help Your Overweight Dog
Is My Dog Overweight?
As we humans get larger, our dogs do too. And the figures are nothing to scoff at: 50 percent of today’s pooches are overweight and more than 20 percent are obese, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.
“Obesity in pets is mirroring obesity in people and it’s due to too much food and not enough exercise,” says Dr. Karyn Collier, DVM, chief medical officer at Saint Francis Veterinary Center for Animal Physical Therapy in Woolwich Township, N.J.
“We humans enjoy food so we want to see the same with our pets. We’re killing them with kindness. If dogs don’t dive in [to their food] we add things like gravy or some chicken or beef just to see our pet eat. It may be that that dog is just not hungry right then.”
An overweight dog is no laughing matter. Too many pounds can cause problems ranging from heart disease to diabetes and arthritis.
Fortunately, making a few simple changes to your dog’s food and lifestyle can allow him to shed some pounds. Read on for some suggestions…
1. Turn to Scientific Methods
Check out the tips for weight assessment using tools such as the Healthy Weight Protocol. This is a scientific method for determining a dog’s ideal weight. Your vet will take four measurements of your dog, which are then used to assess his body fat index through a computer program. Your vet can then tell you exactly how overweight your dog is and his ideal weight.
2. Ask Your Vet
When you take your dog for his annual checkup, ask your veterinarian to do a body condition score so you know how your dog is doing and how much weight he needs to lose, if any.
You can also use these tools online, which are often provided with handy pictures of how your pet looks and what his ideal body looks like. Scoring ranges from one to five or one to 9, and a dog with a perfect weight will have a number that falls in the middle.
3. Use Your Eyes — and Hands
Check out your dog yourself: “You should be able to feel her ribs without an excessive amount of fat on them,” says Dr. Collier. “You should be able to count them.”
Looking from above, your dog’s chest should be wider and the flank — the area between the ribs and the pelvis — should be indented. If you are standing to the side of the dog, the chest should tuck up as it goes into the abdomen.
“If you have a hard time finding the ribs and you really have to press, the dog is getting heavy,” says Dr. Collier. “If you’re starting to lose the indentation on the waist and the tuck up to the abdomen, the dog is overweight.”
You may also want to watch how your dog manages his walks. “If you notice he pants heavily on walks he used to be able to make,” Dr. Collier explains, “he may be getting too heavy.
For the complete slideshow on 10 simple ways to help your overweight dog, visit petMD.