Overweight dogs are an increasing concern for even the most diligent pet guardians, bringing with them a slew of issues. An overweight dog, like a human, is prone to a variety of health difficulties, and obesity can exacerbate pre-existing conditions. While it is best to avoid weight problems, it is never too late to begin a weight loss program with an overweight dog. Knowing how to assist your dog in losing weight is just as vital as realizing that it is necessary.
There are a few techniques to determine if a visit to the vet is necessary if you are unsure whether your dog is overweight.
Consider Your Dog’s Fitness Level
An overweight dog may walk more slowly and take more frequent naps than usual, and will frequently pant even after engaging in very little physical activity.
Feel Your Dog’s Ribs
The ribs of your puppy should be easily palpable, without any excess fat. Ribs should feel like the palm of your hand if you have a healthy pet.
Look for the Tuck-Up
The chest of your dog should be significantly larger than the abdomen, and there should be a tuck-up from the chest to the abdomen.
Look For Your Pup’s Waist
When viewed from the side, an overweight dog would typically lack a waistline and a distinction between their chest and stomach.
Monitor Your Dog’s Energy & Endurance
Monitor Your Dog’s Energy & Endurance
Dogs who are overweight may also be less fit. As a result, you might notice your dog panting while walking or moving more slowly than they ought to be able to given their age and size. Your dog may even seem to sleep more than usual.
How a Dog Becomes Overweight
When you’ve established that your dog may be overweight or perhaps obese, it’s time to investigate the potential causes of this condition.
Although it may seem evident, the food you give your dog and the amounts you give them at each meal can have a significant impact on their weight. Dogs that are fed kibble are 1.2 times more likely to be obese than dogs who are fed a fresh food diet, and a series of little meals throughout the day can be better for maintaining a healthy weight than a single large meal each day.
But as long as they make up less than 10% of total calories consumed, treats may not necessarily increase the risk of becoming obese. The kind of treats supplied is another crucial factor to take into account; although providing your dog fresh vegetables as treats is most closely associated with your dog having an ideal weight, dental snacks are most strongly linked to obesity.
The chance of being overweight or obese is highest in animals between the ages of 6 and 10, although it decreases with age.
Four times as likely to be obese as happy dogs were dogs whose owners classified them as depressed. Dogs who are depressed may become withdrawn and inactive, and you could notice a change in their feeding or sleeping patterns.
Similar to people, your dog may become overweight or obese if they engage in little physical activity. Your dog is 6 times more likely to be obese if they exercise fewer than 4 hours per week than dogs who exercise more than 7 hours per week.
Dogs of all sizes, regardless of age or health, require daily exercise. While several breeds have unique requirements that must be considered, all dogs require some sort of daily physical activity. Dogs who aren’t active will become bored, unwell, and obese. Additionally, we must ensure that our dogs receive the appropriate amount of exercise because they are under our care. especially if we additionally lavishly shower them with treats throughout the day.
The ailment that your dog already has can be influencing their weight. For instance, joint pain may prevent them from exercising, or they may be underweight or overweight due to a thyroid condition or another metabolic or endocrine illness. Talk to your doctor about your pet’s optimal weight, if there is in fact a weight issue, and whether an underlying health condition could be the reason. Ideal weight and body composition can differ greatly between breeds, so always discuss these issues with your physician.
Neutering can also result in obesity. This is due to the fact that sex hormones regulate pets’ metabolism and hunger. Neutering may cause an increased hunger and low energy if it reduces the impact of these hormones. The food habits of your pet may vary after neutering.
Hormonal disorders & disease
Weight issues can also be brought on by hormonal issues. For instance, decreased hormone production may result from a hypothyroidism. Or a dog’s adrenal glands may overproduce the hormone cortisol, which can result in Cushing’s disease. The fat in dogs with Cushing’s Disease is transferred to the abdomen, giving them a pot-bellied appearance even if they don’t actually gain weight.
What is Cushing’s Disease in Dogs?
If your dog is gaining weight but not eating more than normal, you should be on the lookout for hypothyroidism as well as Cushing’s Disease, another health issue. When the body of your dog produces excessive amounts of cortisol, a hormone stored in the adrenal glands, Cushing’s disease develops. Additionally, cortisol aids in maintaining healthy body weight, tissue composition, skin quality, and other bodily functions.
The two forms of Cushing’s disease are as follows:
- The first, more prevalent variety occurs when a pituitary tumor forms near the base of the brain, leading to an excess of hormones that promote an excess of cortisol production.
- The second, which is less frequent, occurs when an adrenal gland tumor results in an excess of cortisol.
Blood tests or ultrasounds are used to identify the kind of Cushing’s Disease present and to decide the appropriate course of treatment because the medications for each type vary.
While middle-aged or elderly dogs are the most frequently affected, it’s crucial to be aware of the signs. The following are the most typical signs of canine Cushing’s Disease, according to Chewy:
- Increased thirst and urination (polydipsia and polyuria, respectively)
- Increased hunger
- Increased panting
- Pot-bellied abdomen
- Loss of hair
- Recurrent infections of skin, ears, urinary tract, etc.
- Darkening of the skin
- Appearance of blackheads on the skin
- Thin skin
- Hard white scaly patches on the skin or elbows (associated with the disease calcinosis cutis)
- Lack of energy
- Inability to sleep (insomnia)
- Muscle weakness
- Fat pads on the neck and shoulders
- Neurologic abnormalities (circling, behavioral changes, seizures, etc.)
How to Help Your Dog Lose Weight
If you believe your dog is overweight, a visit to the veterinarian is necessary. Keep in mind that unexplained weight increase might be an indication of serious illness.
Your veterinarian will recommend a diet and exercise routine to assist your pet get back on track if they assess that your canine friend is overweight and there are no underlying conditions contributing to the weight increase.
Here are some tips your veterinarian could recommend to aid in your dog’s weight loss:
Maintain a regular exercise routine for your dog, which should include two daily walks and some daily outside playtime. Playing frisbee or catch with your dog can strengthen your relationship and give your pet a pleasant method to shed weight.
Modify Diet & Feeding
Your veterinarian may determine how many calories your dog needs to consume at each meal and, if necessary, can recommend a low-calorie diet food for your pet. Making sure your dog eats at the same time each day is a good idea. You should also measure out the amounts properly depending on the recommended weight for the breed and size of your dog.
Annual or biannual health examinations with your primary care veterinarian, though they may seem unnecessary, can keep your dog healthier for the duration of their life.
Your dog’s health will be periodically checked by your veterinarian, who may check for early indications of sickness (before problems worsen) and keep track of your pet’s weight.
Visit your doctor for follow-up sessions if your dog is on a weight-loss regimen so that your dog’s progress may be tracked and dietary adjustments can be made as necessary.
Dog’s Weight Assessment
The layer of fat on an obese dog makes it impossible to feel any ribs at all. Additionally dense and difficult to feel is the base of their tail. You may notice fat hanging from an obese dog’s tummy when looking at them from the side. Their back will be noticeably widened and their waist will be quite difficult to perceive from above.
An overweight dog’s ribs are harder to feel under modest fat cover, and the base of their tail will likely thicken. A dog that is overweight is likely to lack an abdominal tuck when viewed from the side. Their back will appear broader at the waist when viewed from above.
A dog who is at their ideal weight will have a slight covering of fat over their ribs, making them easy to feel but not easily seen. A smooth contour with slight fat cover will also be at the base of their tail. An abdominal tuck should be noticeable from the side, while a well-proportioned waist should be visible from above.
An overweight dog will have a thin layer of fat covering their ribs, making them easy to feel but difficult to see. At the base of their tail, a smooth contour with a thin layer of fat will also be present. A well-proportioned waist should be apparent from above, and an abdominal tuck should be noticeable from the side.
The ribs and tailbone of a skinny dog are easily felt and seen, and these bones are frequently elevated. Very slim dogs typically have an accentuated hourglass shape when viewed from above and have a significant belly tuck when viewed from the side.
What Are The Risks With Obesity?
Dogs who are obese live shorter lives and are more likely to get sick. It was long believed that heavier dogs typically lived 6 to 12 months less than leaner canines. However, a significant, long-term research of Labrador Retrievers shown that even mild obesity can shorten a dog’s life span by about two years when compared to their thinner counterparts. This startling fact is true.
Fat was once thought to be a relatively inert tissue that did nothing more than store extra calories and increase body mass. Scientific research has since shown that fat tissue is physiologically active. It releases inflammatory hormones and puts the body’s tissues under oxidative stress, both of which help to cause numerous diseases. A novel perspective is to consider obesity as a persistent, mildly inflammatory condition.
Obese dogs become more prone to:
- many types of cancer, diabetes mellitus, heart disease, and hypertension
- osteoarthritis and a faster degeneration of affected joints
- urinary bladder stones
- anesthetic complications as they are less heat tolerant
How to Keep Your Overweight Dog Active
Having regular physical exercise is another important factor in maintaining your furry baby’s overall health, even if a healthy diet is the cornerstone of managing his weight. Among the exercises you could take to keep your dog active are:
- Taking your dog on daily walks. More than one walk a day might be helpful depending on the breed of your dog. This is a fantastic chance to enjoy the outdoors, stay constantly active for both you and your dog, and just strengthen your relationship.
- Playtime – indoors or outdoors. The additional playtime and time spent with you will be appreciated by your dog. Play a game of tug-of-war or fetch with some of your dog’s favorite toys.
- Spend time at the dog park. Not only is taking your dog to the local dog park a terrific way to keep him socialized, but it’s also a great way for him to burn off some excess energy.
The global prevalence of overweight and obese canines is increasing. Obesity typically impairs a dog’s quality of life and can lead to a variety of serious and potentially fatal illnesses. Your overall objective should be to help your dog acquire good habits that will prevent future health issues.
In short, long-term solutions are preferable to overnight results. And follow our recommendations to get your pet friend to a healthy weight.