Obesity is not just a growing problem for the human population, overweight dogs-just plain fat dogs-is becoming more common.
Obesity is a common nutritional disorder in dogs. Just like people, dogs can get fat through over feeding and insufficient exercise.
Even if you think you are only giving your dog a small amount of food per day, if you dog is getting insufficient exercise relative to the amount of food intake, he can still gain weight. Over time, he can and will get fat.
Fat dogs are not healthy dogs. Overweight dogs tend to develop health problems such as diabetes, and excess weight can aggravate conditions such as arthritis, which often develops in middle aged and elderly dogs. To put it in perspective, an extra five pounds on a 15 pound dog is equivalent to an extra 50 pounds on a 150-pound person.
How You Can Prevent Your Dog from Becoming Fat
Fortunately, there are some common-sense weight control measures you can take to help prevent your dog from getting fat.
- If you practice “free feeding" (leaving dry dog food available 24/7), STOP. If your dog hasn't eaten his food within about 15 minutes, remove his dish.
- Reduce your dog's between meal snacks and treats. Dog treats are often high in fat and calories and some treats like biscuits and dog cookies are heavy in low fiber carbs.
- Exercise your dog regularly. Ideally, you should give your dog a brisk walk for at least 20 minutes twice a day. This is as good for you as for your dog in helping to maintain a healthy weight for both of you.
- If you have an overweight dog, talk to your vet about finding the optimum calorie intake for him.
- Consider switching to a low fat dog food and giving him low fat dog treats.
With a little effort your dog will be well on his way to a more healthy weight.
Valerie Goettsch is web master of My Favorite Dog, a website featuring dozens of articles and information on where to find the best of everything for your dog, from flea meds to beds, training and designer dog clothes.