One of the most serious health problems that dogs face today is obesity. Like their two-legged companions, many dogs overeat and under exercise. The consequences of having an obese dog could be other serious health problems including diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis. A study done using Labrador retrievers showed that even moderately overweight dogs had a lifespan shortened by two years.
Obesity is defined as the accumulation of excess body fat. When your dog is more than 120% of their ideal body weight they meet the standards for being obese. You can tell when your dog is overweight by feeling their rib cage and backbone. You should be able to feel the ribs under a thin layer of fat and muscle. The ridges of the backbone should be felt without having to press down on it. If you look at your dog from the side, you should see a defined waist behind the rib cage. If you can’t see the waistline, or feel their ribs or backbone, you dog may be obese.
A trip to your veterinarian will confirm your suspicions. There your vet will rule out any metabolic or any other disease that may be causing weight gain. Once these are ruled out, you and your vet can work on coming up with a suitable diet and exercise program.
One way to help prevent obesity in your pet is to feed her a good, high-quality dog food. Purina’s Beneful Brand Dog Food is an example. Purina has thoroughly researched Beneful and blended it so it contains all the nutrients your dog needs to live a long and happy life. Beneful uses real meat from chicken, turkey, salmon and beef. Corn, rice, and vegetables like peas, carrots and spinach provide natural vitamins and antioxidants. Beneful is available in dry and wet forms in a variety of flavors and package sizes.
The road to recovery for an obese dog includes making sure they get more exercise. Don’t start too much too fast as your pooch may not be able to handle an intensive exercise program right off the bat. Gradually work up from a simple walk around the block, adding a few hundred feet a couple of times a week until his tolerance and stamina improves. Try to build up to two walks a day of at least fifteen minutes each. Also, play fetch or take your dog to the local dog park so they can interact with other dogs. This gives them exercise and also helps increase their social interaction.
Cutting down on the portion of dog food is another part in combating obesity. If you are one of the dog owners that leave food out all day, then you may want to consider feeding only on a regular schedule. For an average 40 pound dog, a good rule of thumb for portion control is to feed about three cups of dry food a day. Also, treats should be limited and not constitute more than 10% of your dog’s daily calorie intake.