Obesity in the canine

The couch potato that stays nice and thin

First; how do you know if your dog is overweight?  Feel for ribs, you should be able to feel each rib.  Each rib should feel like it has a neoprene covering, not dough, just a thin layer of neoprene.  If you have to dig to feel them, your dog is fat.  I know, it can be a difficult thing to acknowledge but the sooner you acknowledge it the sooner you can get to work at getting it off. 

There has been a video floating around the net lately of a hugely obese dog.  It is very sad and the people who took this dog in are working to get the weight off.  An obese dog is no laughing matter, it is a serious one indeed.  Although they are attempting to take weight off of the dog; the damage may have already been done.  Having an overweight dog is serious; they run the risk of all sorts of weight related health issues.

It is sad to see a dog waddling around, every breath seems like a challenge.  Too much weight can be the end of normal dog activity.  They can't run and play like the other dogs.  Overweight dogs are at risk from many factors that involve carrying too much weight on their structure.   Jumping can be dangerous as their joints take a toll with extra weight.  Their vital organs suffer from over taxing from their mass and day to day activities can be a huge chore.  Many overweight dogs become arthritic well before their senior years.  Obesity can rob a dog of their young and active years, in fact it can rob years off of their life.

A fat dog is a serious health risk, some of the issues which surround obesity are:

Early arthritis
High blood pressure
Heart problems
Repiratory Disease
Ligament injuries
Kidney disease
A shortened life expectancy

The list goes on and on.  Not only is there a high risk of the above listed diseases but the simple fact that weight will interfere with their normal life. 

Dogs do not get fat on their own; humans create fat dogs.  Too much of a good thing is often a bad thing.  Too much food, too many snacks, free feeding, the wrong food or foods and not enough exercise is what it comes down to.  Many dogs eat the proper amount of food, that is for an active dog.  My own Tilley has now at 14 years of age had her food intake cut in half.  She only has a very small walk a day and a couple of tosses of the ball, she doesn't need as much food anymore.  Any extra pound is just something that she has to haul around on her aging frame.

I remember over a year ago when I had to carry Tilley up and down the stairs for about 3 months.  It was a big eye opener, my knees were hurting and I realized that if I gained 44 lbs this is what I would feel like hauling myself up and down the stairs.

Of course there are health reasons why a dog cannot lose weight just like with humans.  That is for another blog.  If you have taken your dog to the veterinarian and they have gotten a clean bill of health other than too much food, then you have work to do. 
But you must take it slow, you have a dog that is not only too heavy but also out of shape.  You cannot turn it around in a day.  Small walks and cutting back food to start.  Work up the distance and intensity as your dog slowly sheds the pounds.  Dogs actually lose weight very quickly when they have a change in activity level and food consumption. 

I know many people feel that they should give lots of goodies to their dog because they love them.  If you really love your dog, take them out for a walk.  Feed them the highest quality food that you can and set a goal for you and your dog.  A sleek body has a much better chance of fighting off health issues.  And you'll have your pooch around for many many more years for it.

Association for Pet Obesity Prevention

Love your dog?  Time to get them into shape.