Obesity is a man-made illness. A wild wolf will never get obese but a dog will. In fact, some breeds are more prone to obesity than others. Labradors, Retrievers, Pugs, Mastiffs are all very likely to get obese and hence must be monitored carefully. How severe is obesity in dogs? Let’s find out.
Is My Dog Obese?
Different breeds are under different weight brackets but the general rule is if you can run your hands down their sides you should be able to feel their ribs. Their ribs should feel something like how your knuckles feel when you keep your palm straight.
There are some expectations for this rule. For instance, Hounds are generally thinner, especially greyhounds. Even if you feel their ribs, it doesn’t mean they are underweight, but this rule applies to most breeds.
Why Is Obesity In Dogs A Problem?
Earlier it was believed that fat cells are inactive. Their main job was to store extra fat in the body. However, recent studies revealed that fat cells are responsible for certain hormonal functions.
Fat cells can secrete inflammatory hormones and oxidative stress. This is why obesity can lead to a host of illnesses. Some of the most common problems obese dogs have are:
- Back and hind leg problems
- Heart problems
- Cushing’s Disease
- Kidney stones
It also decreases their life span. Earlier it was believed that obesity can shorten their lifespan by 6 months but a recent study conducted on obese Labradors showed that their lifespan was cut down by 2 years!
Why Is My Dog Obese?
Poor dietary choices and lifestyle is the primary reason for your dog to become obese. However, other situations can also increase their weight – situations that are completely out of your control.
1. Age And Genetics
As we said earlier, some dogs are naturally prone to obesity. With age, many Labradors becomes obese. Though it is hereditary, if you spend more time in their diet and workout plan you can keep obesity at bay for longer.
Some strong medicines, usually hormonal medicines and anti allergens lead to obesity. If you feel that your dog is suddenly increasing in weight because of their medication, please talk to your doctor and check if you can switch medications with something that has fewer side effects.
Just like how it happens to humans, dogs sometimes see an increase in fat buildup post-surgery. Though all surgeries can cause this, the most common surgery causing weight gain is a standard spay or a neuter.
If they are sterilised after maturity their body is accustomed to producing higher amounts of sex hormones. With the surgery, the production of the hormones lower down quite suddenly and the excess amounts usually lead to weight gain.
How To Prevent/Manage Obesity
Obesity is a real health hazard and the best way to protect your dogs from it is by keeping it at bay. What if your dog is already obese? Well, then you can use the tips below to manage their obesity and help them lose some weight.
1. Diet And Nutrition
Diet and nutrition is at the forefront of everything when it comes to weight management. If your dog has a lot of table scraps, that needs to stop now! Other than that, you need abstain from a high carb diet. Carbohydrates add a lot of unnecessary calories to their system and contribute to weight gain.
Instead, you can give them a high fibre diet. Fibre keeps the food in their digestive tract for longer and this keeps them full until their next meals.
Lastly the protein content also has an important role to play when it comes to weight loss. An adult dog with moderate levels of activity should have around 26-28% protein. If your dog is having any more than they should, it will lead to weight gain.
There are special formulas made especially for obese dogs. Goodness’s weight control formula contains lean meat and all the dietary fibres needed to keep their weight under control. Ingredients like glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate promote lean muscle buildup which is very essential for overweight dogs.
2. Slowing Down Eating
If your dog eats too fast, you need to slow them down. Eating slowly allows their stomachs to feel full even with a lesser amount of food.
You can use a maize bowl but perhaps the most cost-effective method would be to add a clean rubber ball on top of their food bowl and fill it with food from the sides. It will give them a good workout and slow down their eating.
For dogs that are young and don’t have a weight problem can walk and run for longer durations in the day. Once they age and become overweight, you need to spend more time chalking out an exercise regime that does not injure them.
Dogs with obesity and other health problems like arthritis, back pain, might have a hard time on a exercise routine. The pain on their feet may make it difficult for them to walk or run for long hours.
To make it easier on their bones, you can walk them for shorter periods, many times a day. If you have access to underwater treadmills for dogs, you should enrol them for a few sessions. Water takes the weight off their feet and eases the pain. This enables them to work out for longer periods without injuring themselves.
Doggy swimming pools are also a great place to take them. Swimming is much better for their bones and joints than jogging or walking. It will also keep their weight under control.
It is very slow to reverse the effects of obesity in dogs. But, if you are persistent, you can bring their weight down to a healthy range. Are you struggling to manage your dog’s weight? Let us know how the above tips helped you.