Forty percent of dogs are considered obese in the UK. While this is enough to warrant an epidemic, the problem stems from a combination of owners not recognising when their own dog is overweight, and not understanding how little weight a dog needs to gain before their health is at risk.
While the health risks of obesity in dogs can be life threatening, it is also a problem which, if kept in check, is relatively easy to avoid.
Health Risks of Obesity
Each breed of dog typically has an ideal adult weight range, says pet nutrition experts James Wellbeloved. As a general rule, if your dog falls under the recommended weight range, they are too thin. Likewise, if they exceed the weight range, they are considered overweight to an unhealthy degree. Sometimes this is only the difference of a few kilogrammes, so owners need to be vigilant and weigh their pet regularly.
Obesity is a very serious problem in dogs and can very quickly lead to long-term health issues, including high blood pressure, increased risk of cancer, diabetes, liver disease, and osteoarthritis. It is also likely to lower the effectiveness of their immune system, increasing the risk of harm from other illnesses and diseases.
Signs Your Dog Is Overweight
The easiest way to tell if your dog is overweight is to go to the vet. However, you should be able to approximate your dog’s condition without the vet, too, so you can ensure your dog is inside their healthy weight range.
1. Find an online dog weight chart and learn the ideal weight range of your dog according to their breed and sex. Weigh your dog and compare.
2. Dogs should have a visibly tapering waistline when viewed from above, and a tucked abdomen from the side. If you can’t see either, your dog is probably overweight.
3. If your dog struggles to get to their feet, fatigues easily on walks, or has trouble breathing, obesity could be a factor.
4. If you can see your dog’s ribs and spine without touching them, they are too thin. Conversely, if you struggle to feel their ribs through the layers of fat and muscle, they are too heavy.
Staying at A Healthy Weight
Like humans, the key to any healthy dog diet is a balance between eating healthy food, eating regularly and not to excess, and staying exercised.
• Feed your dog purpose-made food that is suitable for their age and size. Dogs need different levels of nutrition at different stages of life.
• Feed your dog at regular times each day, and never exceed the recommended daily amount, unless your vet has explicitly advised to do so.
• Avoid giving your dog excessive treats.
• Cut out table scraps. They are disruptive to the diet and encourage bad eating habits.
• Exercise your dog every day with quality walks and regular play.
• Know what your dog’s ideal weight should be, weigh your dog regularly, and schedule regular check-ups with your vet.
It doesn’t take much for your dog to become overweight and have their health put at risk. Keep them happy and healthy by remaining vigilant about their size, only feed them a healthy diet, and substitute the treats for regular play and affection.