If someone said you could have two extra years with your pet, would you take it? Of course you would! And probably at any cost.
Keep your dog’s weight in check and you could accomplish just that. Conversely, let them tip the scales and you’re inevitably putting them at risk.
Learning the dangers of doggy obesity is the first step in preventing it. Here’s what you need to know about helping your pet maintain a healthy weight.
Weight and Stats
The CDC now predicts that 1 in 3 Americans qualify as ‘overweight’. When polled, vets have reported similar findings. That means millions of our beloved pets are at risk of obesity-related illness.
To find out if your dog needs to shed some lbs, do this simple at home test:
Start by assessing your dog’s waistline. If your dog is a healthy weight, an aerial view should reveal a slight inward curve between the ribs and hips. Midsections that appear flat or protruded in shape, as opposed to hourglass, could be overweight.
Next, feel for your dog’s ribs. You should find them easily. If not, or if they’re covered in a layer of fat, it’s cause for concern.
Take your pet to the vet to get an accurate read of its Body Condition Score (BCS). (It’s the equivalent of BMI- Body Mass Index- in humans.) A 6 out of 9 and above are considered over their ideal weight.
Diseases Associated with Doggy Obesity
Extra weight is responsible for a host of problems. As the pounds increase, your dog’s small frame has a hard time compensating. Bones and joints often suffer first. However, weight gain can also lead to permanent damage of vital internal organs or create a high inflammation response.
But the health issues don’t stop there. Overweight pups are at risk for a variety of diseases and complications including:
- Heart disease
- Bladder stones
- Live disease
Diet and Nutrition Recommendations
Making diet and lifestyle changes are the best place to start. Talk to your vet before implementing adjustments to your dog’s diet. Making sweeping changes all at once could cause them to become ill or send their systems into shock. The key is gradual and steady weight loss.
Also keep in mind that simply decreasing the amount of food in the bowl won’t guarantee you good health and longevity. You also need to make sure the nutritional composition is appropriate for your breed. A high-quality low-carbohydrate dog food and adjusted feed times is generally a safer place to start. High-carbohydrate diets (white/russet potatoes, white rice, corn, wheat, barley, oatmeal, etc.) have a high glycemic index which can be far more instrumental in weight gain than a high fat diet. With a high-protein and low-carb diet, you can serve them much less food to maintain the same amount of calorie intake. This is because fat has twice as many calories per gram than carbohydrates.
Can you Keep the Treats?
We all need a small reward every now and again. So long as your dog isn’t morbidly obese or experiencing any serious health issues, most vets don’t object to a healthy snack once in a while.
In addition to all meat treats, you might consider adding some green veggies like green beans or broccoli as an occasional reward. Keep in mind that these treats should comprise a very small percentage of your dog’s daily caloric intake.
Do it! Burning more calories than you ingest in a day is the only way to drop excess weight. Be patient though. As much as dog’s love to play outside, it may take them some time to ramp up their endurance. By pairing regular exercise with a high-protein, low-carb diet that promotes healthier muscles, you’re on your way to stepping up your pooches metabolism.
Ready to lengthen and improve your dog’s quality of life while avoiding costly vet bills? Make weight maintenance a top priority.