According to a study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, more than half of all U.S. dogs and cats are obese. It’s an epidemic. So when my darling (and devouring) Dexter dined a little too heavily, the vet issued me a stern reprimand. Gulp!
I love dogs, I write about dogs, and my dog is a portly pooch? Well, not really portly, but he had gained two pounds. Ruling out any thyroid condition, I assessed table scraps, the type of dry food I was feeding him, and treats.
Fast forward two months, and my boy is leaner and I am a lot happier. He lost the two pounds, plus a teensy bit more. Here’s what I’ve learned about keeping dogs fit.
Feel around his ribs and spine; you should be able to locate both, with only a thin layer of fat separating skin from bones. If you are unable to find the ribcage, you have an overweight dog. Viewing the dog from above, you should be able to see a moderate narrowing at the waist just past the ribcage. A large and drooping abdomen is another sign that your pet is overweight. A bulging line from the ribcage to the hips also indicates an overweight dog.
Ask your veterinarian to evaluate your dog’s size at every check-up. Once your canine has reached maturity, ask for his optimal weight.
Remember, there is no shame in admitting you need help to learn how to help your dog shed pounds.
Katie Newman wrote a how-to guide for canine weight loss, The Amazing Treat Diet for Dogs, to help other dog parents. Her dog Hustler suffered numerous ailments, which led to a more sedentary lifestyle — and extra pounds. Of particular interest are the appendices, which include toxic foods for dogs and a handy fruit and vegetable nutrition chart.
Also, my dog blogging buddy, Jana Rade of Dawg Business, is hosting a year-long “Show Us Your Dog’s Waistline” campaign to encourage folks to keep dogs fit and healthy. Check it out!
While sneaking a tidbit now and then isn’t so bad, dogs who are overweight are prone to knee injuries, pancreatic issues, liver disease, heart problems, trouble cooling off, snoring, and much more. And remember, just because a treat says “healthy” or “nutritious” does not make it so. I can read dog food and dog treat labels better than I can human food labels these days. It isn’t as hard as you might think. Becoming your dog’s advocate for what he consumes is pivotal for better health and increased longevity.
Got a pooch who can stand to lose a few pounds? Have you had any luck bringing her weight down? Bark at me in the comments below!