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Overweight dogs may seem cute and huggable, but the truth is that the excess weight poses a risk to their health. Canines with unnecessary weight may develop early signs of arthritis and other complications. Like humans, dogs, too, need to maintain an ideal weight to prevent any potential illnesses. So in this post, we will guide you through the best way for dogs to lose weight.
Overweight vs. obese
As much as the terms ‘overweight’ and ‘obese’ are used interchangeably, it has different meanings.
When a dog is overweight, it means that it’s 10 to 20% heavier than the ideal body weight based on its age and breed. Meanwhile, a dog is considered obese if its weight is 20% or more than its ideal weight.
This means that an overweight dog can progress to becoming an obese canine if the problem isn’t addressed early on. Take note that being overweight and obese are both harmful to your dog’s health. You must help your dog lose weight gradually.
In this video, Dr. Mike and Dr. April tell us more about obesity in pets and what the owners can do about it:
How dogs gain extra weight
There are many reasons why dogs gain extra weight. It ranges from their diet to specific health conditions. Here are some of the common culprits why your doggo looks like a tank:
-Absence of portion control
Many pet owners are guilty of open feeding. What they do is serve a large portion of food at once and allow their dog to consume it until the next meal.
The biggest issue here is that dogs don’t have a sense of portion control. They will eat as much as they can, much so for canines with insatiable appetites.
In just a few weeks, this practice will cause your dog to gain excessive weight. Worse, if you start controlling the portions of their food, your dog will whine and demand more. Sadly, some owners give in, thinking that they’re doing their doggos a favor.
-Feeding table scraps
Table scraps are no-nos, regardless if you have an obese dog or not. Human food has seasonings and ingredients not suitable for canines.
Also, pet owners don’t always factor in the calorie content of tables scraps, which leads to overfeeding.
Another common reason for being overweight is the lack of exercise. If you have a couch potato that’s also an eating machine, your dog could be obese.
A canine must get enough exercise to burn the excess calories it consumed during the day. However, dogs shouldn’t be over-exerted, which means you really have to watch out its food consumption.
The likes of hypothyroidism and other hormonal imbalances can lead to a sudden weight gain among canines. Breeds like Golden Retrievers and Doberman Pinschers are prone to this condition and must be checked regularly.
Another possible cause of unexplained weight gain among canine is Cushing’s disease. This is a condition on which the body produces excess stress hormones. As you know, intense stress can lead to pangs of hunger and thirst. When this happens, the canine will seek food to appease the discomfort.
Signs that your dog is overweight/obese
Before you can use the best way for dogs to lose weight, you have to know if your dog has excess weight. Here are some of the signs:
-You can’t feel your dog’s ribs
-You can’t see a visible waistline
-The chest and stomach has no distinction
-Panting after a short walk
-Your dog is becoming a couch potato
-Walks slower than it usually does
-Excess weight as checked using a weighing scale
Take note that a veterinarian’s examination is important to identify if your pooch is overweight or obese. Also, a visit to the vet is the only way to determine if an underlying condition is a reason behind the excess weight.
Why being overweight/obese is dangerous for dogs
Since it called ‘excess’, the extra weight isn’t doing the pooch any favor. Worse, it only exposes your pet to a range of health problems. Here are some of the reasons why it’s dangerous for a dog to become overweight or obese.
-It can cause breathing problems
Excess weight can cause the trachea of a dog to collapse. It can also lead to laryngeal paralysis, which is a fatal case of breathing difficulty. If you don’t address this right away, such conditions can branch out to a respiratory crisis that could lead to a canine’s death.
-It puts more pressure on their joints
Another major concern that experts have is that being overweight increases a dog’s risk of having torn ACL or premature arthritis. This is due to the excessive wear and tear brought by the extra weight. Take note that arthritis requires life-long care and torn ACL may need a surgical operation.
-It can lead to fatty tumors
Being overweight also exposes your dog to the risk of developing fatty tumors. Though often benign, such tumors can lead to other complications. Aside from that, your dog is at a higher risk of bladder and breast cancer if it’s obese.
-It can cause anesthesia complications
The difficulty of breathing due to excess weight can be life-threatening if your dog has to be put in anesthesia. As the dog tries to expand its chest while on sleep, its body struggles due to the layers of fat hindering the body organs.
Worse, overweight dogs will take longer to wake up from anesthesia.
-It can lead to more serious health problems
Being overweight or obese can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, skin disease, and other complications. All of these can branch out to other problems if the pet doesn’t lose weight for long.
The best way for dogs to lose weight
Looking for the best way for dogs to lose weight? Here are some of the effective methods to help your dog shed the extra pounds.
-Impose a calorie limit
The first thing you have to do is to limit the calorie intake of your dog. Take note that this doesn’t mean you’re going to starve your pooch. You can work with a veterinarian or a pet nutritionist to know how much your dog should eat in a day. You must factor in the amount of treats you’re giving your dog and again, no table scraps, please.
It’s important to measure the meals of your dog every time. A guesstimate doesn’t work if you really want your dog to lose weight. Take note that adding at least 10 more kibbles to your dog’s meals can add up to excess weight.
Never give your dog an all-day buffet. The same with kids, you need to watch out for what they eat.
-Increase physical activities gradually
Now that you realized that exercise is the key to your dog’s weight loss, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to take the pooch on a 15-mile stretch. You have to do the increase gradually so your dog’s body could adjust. Take note that intense exercise will worsen the breathing difficulty of your pooch. And if you have a flat-nose doggo, it could lead to overheating.
-Have the dog’s hormones checked
It’s also important to have your dog’s hormones checked. This is to rule out any other possible cause of weight gain. If you’ve done everything to help your dog lose weight, they may have an underlying condition due to be diagnosed.
Also, it’s best to have your dog diagnosed with obesity through the body condition score (BCS). This way, the vet can advise about the proper way of dealing with your dog’s excess weight.
Once the veterinarian diagnosed the problem, the dog will be treated before starting a weight loss plan. Usually, the canine will shed the excess weight slowly once its hormonal problems have to be solved.
-Perform ‘tactical treating’
Tactical treating means you’re going to be a little creative when giving your dog some treats. For sure, you need to cut back on the treats, but it doesn’t mean you need to stop giving it to your pooch. In fact, you don’t even have to reduce the frequency of the treats. But how is this possible?
Your dog doesn’t divide nor check the size of the treat. The trick here is to cut one piece of a treat into several pieces. That way, you can trick your dog to thinking that you’re being lavish with treats when in fact it’s just half of what you used to give.
Also, instead of giving your dog calorie-packed treats, we recommend that you switch them to healthier options. Make homemade treats out of sweet potato, salmon, and blueberries. You can also steam slices of chicken and give it as treats. The key here is more protein and fiber but fewer carbohydrates.
-Consider vet-approved supplements
Some dietary supplements can aid in the weight loss of your dog. Take note that you should only use vet-approved supplements to avoid any adverse effects on your pet.
Food with L-Carnitine can help boost the weight loss of the pooch. This is best paired with Omega fatty acids as well as glucosamine and chondroitin.
Take note that no single supplement can make your dog lose pound after pound. It should only be what it is: a supplement to your dog’s weight loss plan. Most of all, you should only use supplements that the vet recommended.
-Use fun as a reward, not food
When training your dog, it’s best to use affection and fun as rewards instead of food. You can shift your dog into this new kind of reward slowly so the pooch won’t lose its interest in the training drills.
If you can’t remove treats right away, opt for high-protein types with low-calorie content. A little compromise from time to time can help in encouraging your dog to lose weight.
You can use walks or a dose of playtime to reward for your dog’s good behavior.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Do green beans help dogs lose weight?
A: Yes, as long as you give the right amount. You can even use steamed green beans as alternatives to commercially available treats. It’s rich in vitamins and minerals, not to mention that dogs love it too.
Q: How much weight can a dog lose in a week?
A: Take note that weight loss among dogs should be done slowly and safely. The rule of thumb is that a dog should only lose about 3 to 5% of its body weight per month. Anything beyond this is abrupt weight loss, which can be health consequences.
Q: Does walking dog help lose weight?
A: If you’re giving your dog daily walks but it’s still overweight, you may need to do more than just walking the pooch. The best way for dogs to lose weight is to increase the physical activity of the dog without subjecting them to intense body stress.
Q: How many calories does a dog burn walking?
A: On average, dogs will burn only about 64 calories in an hour of walk. Still, it doesn’t mean you’re going to ditch the daily trip around the neighborhood. Walking your dog is a great warm-up for other activities and in burning extra energy so the pooch won’t keep on seeking food.
Q: How long should I walk an overweight dog?
A: Walking an overweight dog is different than taking a healthy canine to pleasure works. For dogs with extra weight, you must aim for a 30-minute brisk walk with multiple stops to allow the dog to drink and rest a little.
The best way for dogs to lose weight includes a well-planned diet and more exercise. Still, you should know the individual needs of your dog so the pooch can shed pounds without any harsh side effects.
Also, never shy away from the advice of a veterinarian. This way, your pooch will have a safe weight loss and any health problems will be addressed early on.
Is your dog obese or overweight? What are you doing to reduce the pooch’s weight? Share your strategy with us in the comment section!