Over 50% of dogs and cats in the US are considered obese or overweight and many of their owners are unaware which leaves them at risk for diseases such as osteoarthritis, heart and respiratory disease, and many types of cancer. These are all expensive and painful diseases that can be easily prevented through weight management.
While overfeeding is one of the main causes of overweight pets, there are also many other factors that could be contributing to the weight gain such as inactivity, breed, age, reproductive status (intact vs spayed/neutered), and preexisting diseases can all contribute to weight gain. If your dog has any of these, you may want to pay extra close attention to your their weight. Here are some tips to follow to make sure that your dog’s weight is appropriate for their breed.
- Can you feel their ribs and see their waist? Regardless of the breed, you should be able to feel and not see your dog’s ribs and notice a “waist” where the body narrows. This is a sign that your dog is at a healthy weight. If your dog has fat deposits on their back and at the base of their tail, their body lacks a “waist,” and/or has an abdominal tuck; these are signs that your dog has a weight problem.
- Keep track of how much you feed them: Just like humans, the best way to manage weight is portion control. Try to maintain a strict feeding schedule for your dog. Ask your vet how often and how much your dog should be fed per day. Feed your dog treats in moderation or read more here about healthy treat options.
- Get moving! Exercise is important for dogs for many reasons. Some good ideas are taking your dog for a walk, swim, or hike. Even taking your dog to a dog park or playing an extra game of tug-of-war is a great source of exercise. Just be sure to keep in mind your dog’s breed, age, and health status when choosing the type of exercise. If your dog is suffering from sore joints or arthritis, consider adding a supplement like Dog Heiro to their diet to help them get back in running shape!
- Read the labels on your dog food: The FDA requires nutritional facts to be printed on dog food. It can get complicated, but scanning these facts can help you to get a better idea as to which brand has the least amount of fats and carbs, and the most protein and nutrients. For more information read our list of veterinarian recommended healthy dog foods for weight management.
Helping your dog to maintain a healthy weight is a huge part of their health and happiness. With crazy schedules, it may feel overwhelming to manage but with these simple tricks and a small bit of extra playing, your dog can be at a healthy weight in no time!