You may not have realized it yet, but there’s a high chance that your beloved canine companion might be overweight.
According to a survey conducted by the Association of Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), more than 50 million dogs across the country weigh more than the ideal weight for their age and breed. This means that approximately 56% of all domesticated dogs suffer from obesity.
Obesity in dogs is a common problem that comes with a plethora of various other health issues and related diseases. Overweight dogs are at an increased risk of diabetes, arthritis, and respiratory conditions, as well as other disorders that may affect their mental health too.
You will expect that an obese dog will be easy to identify because, well, they will be rather fat and lazy. But that’s not necessarily true.
Your dog might be overweight at the moment, and you may not realize it until the layers of excessive fat lead to more severe health issues.
This article will help you identify the symptoms and causes of obesity in dogs so that you can save your furry friend from this potentially deadly disease.
Signs That Your Dog Is Overweight
The tell-tale scale – Use an online weight calculator or talk to your vet to find out the ideal weight for your dog according to their breed and age. If the scale reads anything more than 5% of the recommended weight, your dog will be considered overweight
You cannot feel their ribs – Run your hands around your dog’s flanks and abdomen. You should be able to feel their ribs. If that’s not the case, it might be time to change their diet and exercise routine
The abdominal tuck is not prominent – When viewed from a side, your dog’s chest should be wider than their abdomen. If their body looks somewhat like a tube instead, consider taking them to a vet
They are no longer interested in physical activities – It is normal for dogs to refuse to play and spend a lazy day once in a while. But if your pet suddenly seems to have become more interested in sleeping or staying huddled indoors most of the time, there’s a high chance it’s because they have become overweight
Loss of stamina – If your pooch is performing all of their daily activities as usual, but you feel like they get exhausted too soon, it is probably because they have gained too much weight (although it might not necessarily be apparent by sight)
Causes of Obesity In Dogs
Of course, no loving pup parent would deliberately overfeed their pet. But the point is that your dog might be eating a bit too much without your conscious knowledge. For instance, they might be eating table scraps that you toss in the bin. Or if you have a habit of giving them your leftover foods, they can gain weight quickly.
Lack of Exercise
If you have a sedentary lifestyle, your dog is likely to follow suit too (not that they have another option, do they?)
While you might be able to keep the extra pounds at bay by exercising indoors, the same cannot be said for your pooch. A lack of exercise and proper play puts them at a high risk of obesity.
Dogs lose muscle mass as they age. This reduces their rate of metabolism, which, in turn, leads to fat gain. This is the main reason why obesity is more common among older dogs.
Hypothyroidism is a disease characterized by an underactive thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is responsible for regulating the body’s metabolism. So, when it doesn’t function properly, it leads to an increase in weight. If your dog has gained weight despite being under a strict diet, consider seeing a vet immediately. Their obesity might be a result of hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism is common among dogs aged between 4 to 6 years.
You might be feeding your dog in limited portion sizes, but that’s only half the work. You need to pay attention to the number of carbs they are getting too. Foods that contain a lot of carbohydrates stimulate insulin production, leading to a buildup of fat deposits.
Sometimes, obesity in dogs might be a symptom of diseases such as Cushing’s disease. It is commonly found in dogs aged six or higher.
Other than becoming overweight, dogs with Cushing’s disease become dull and lethargic. Their coat also becomes thin and rough.
Also known as degenerative arthritis, osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage in your dog’s joints becomes worn out. This makes it difficult for your pet to walk and move around, eventually leading to weight gain.
How to Prevent Your Dog From Gaining Extra Weight
Make sure they eat and exercise according to their breed and age-specific requirements
Make sure that they don’t have access to leftovers
If different members of the household tend to give the pet a treat, use a whiteboard or calendar to mark when they had a snack during the day. This will help you track their consumption of treats and avoid overfeeding
If they already follow an active lifestyle, consider adding a few minutes of a high-intensity activity such as a game of fetch or playing with the flirt pole
Go for foods that are low in carbs (and rich in other nutrients like protein instead)
Replace store-bought snacks with fresh fruits and veggies such as carrots, celery, bananas, etc.
If your pet tends to overeat, use special feeding bowls designed to help control appetite
Hopefully, this information will help you identify if your dog might be becoming obese and take the required measures to ensure that they stay fit and healthy.
by Bobby J Davidson || You can’t buy love, but you can rescue it™ .
The main reasons animals are in shelters: owners give them up, or animal control finds them on the street.
Each year, approximately 2.7 million dogs and cats are killed every year because shelters are too full and there aren’t enough adoptive homes. Act as a publicist for your local shelter so pets can find homes. Sign up for Shelter Pet PR.
Approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those, approximately 3.9 million are dogs and 3.4 million are cats.
According to the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP), less than 2% of cats and only 15 to 20% of dogs are returned to their owners.
25% of dogs that enter local shelters are purebred.
About twice as many animals enter shelters as strays compared to the number that are relinquished by their owners.
It’s impossible to determine how many stray dogs and cats live in the United States. Estimates for cats alone range up to 70 million.
Only 10% of the animals received by shelters have been spayed or neutered. Overpopulation, due to owners letting their pets accidentally or intentionally reproduce, sees millions of these “excess” animals killed annually.
Many strays are lost pets that were not kept properly indoors or provided with identification.
According to The Humane Society, there are about 3,500 brick-and-mortar animal shelters in the US and 10,000 rescue groups and animal sanctuaries in North America.