We’re inundated with pictures of giant fluffy dogs all over the internet. There are groups and social media pages dedicated to “chonky” dogs and people seem to fawn over them. Unfortunately, being overweight is an extremely dangerous place for a dog to be in, as it seriously impacts their life expectancy as well. They can develop the same issues as humans do when humans get overweight. Diabetes, hypertension, loss of stamina, lethargy, and bone issues are just the tip of the iceberg!
How Do I Check If My Dog Is Overweight?
If you’re going for regular vet checkups, your vet should mention when your dog starts to go beyond his or her recommended weight. Generally, there is a weigh-in at the veterinarian, and you’ll also be able to see for yourself. In case this has not yet happened at your vet, you can ask about it.
If a vet’s appointment is still a long way away, there are some signs you can check for at home. You can feel along your dogs ribcage for the prominence of bone. If you can feel the ribs easily, then your dog is most likely fit. If your dog looks visually fatter than is the breed standard, then he or she is most likely overweight. Fat dogs, much like humans, have fat rolls and large tummies as well. Fit dogs, on the other hand, have well-defined waists, and don’t have fat bags on their body.
Oh No! My Dog Is Overweight! What Should I Do?
First things first, schedule an appointment with your vet. Every dog has its own quirks, and your dog needs a custom plan made for him or her to get back into shape. More importantly, your vet may investigate underlying medical causes for the weight gain that a simple diet and exercise plan may not be able to address. A dog with diabetes will struggle to lose weight no matter how good his diet and exercise are because the underlying diabetes is not addressed.
Some dogs are also more naturally prone to gain weight. Labradors, Saint Bernards, Dachshunds are some common breeds that tend to put on weight, and owners need to actively be on the lookout to prevent it from happening.
Till you go to the vet, you can take some steps to try and get your furry friend to feel fitter.
Change His Diet!
Many dogs don’t do well with the dry dog food that is the most common across pet owners in the United States. While it is cost-effective and gives your pooch all the nutrients he needs, the fillers tend to be very calorie-dense, which gets converted to fat. Dogs can also have grain or gluten allergies that make them feel bloated and lethargic after eating, leading to an inactive lifestyle and in turn, obesity.
To help your dog, you can, instead, choose to buy high-quality diet dog food that is rich in protein instead of carbs. Diet dog food is widely available, and you can choose one that suits your pet’s nutritional needs like hydrolyzed protein dog food that provides the optimal mix of nutrients while keeping the calories low. You can supplement this with natural options that will help digestion like yogurt and vegetables, as healthy treats instead of high-calorie biscuits.
Another modification you can make to his feeding routine is to get a slow feeder bowl. Dogs can sometimes eat too fast for their own good, and this can lead to issues like humans thinking they aren’t giving enough food, bloating, and severe gastrointestinal issues. A slow feeder bowl can make your dog feel more full too!
Walk A Mile In His Paws!
Simply going on more or longer walks can help your dog get fitter! In case you don’t have time for long walks, you should take him out for multiple short walks a day. If your dog came to you severely overweight, he likely won’t have the stamina for a long walk anyway, and it’s advisable to take it slow to avoid overheating and exhaustion.
Make sure you keep water and a portable bowl with you when you start exercising with your pet. Since they cannot sweat, they can overheat easily. Taking breaks on your walk, and giving them access to freshwater is important. Besides walks, you can engage also engage them in various activities like catch, or take them along with you on hikes too! Varied activities will keep your dog engaged physically as well as mentally, and will help overcome his lethargy!