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How to Avoid and Treat Dog Obesity

Obesity is now one of the most common ailments seen by Veterinary Surgeons. This article discusses some of the problems associated with obesity in dogs and how it can be prevented.

How do I know if my dog is overweight?

You should be able to feel your dog’s ribs and not see them and they should have a discernible waist behind the ribs when viewed from above.

 

Why does it matter if my dog is fat?

Obesity can predispose to many diseases such as diabetes, pancreatitis, it can exacerbate heart and lung disease and osteoarthritis.  A fat dog will die on average 2 years earlier than their healthy counterpart. If your dog is middle aged but you have noticed them slowing down check their weight to see if they are carrying around too much fat. Owners will often think that they are slowing down because they are getting old, if you are unsure whether your dog is overweight then take them to your vets for a weight clinic - most vets will offer free weight checks.
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How do I help my dog lose weight?

The simple answer to this is feed them less and exercise them more.  However in reality this can be hard, especially if your dog has got you trained to feed them just by giving you puppy eyes and letting out a pitiful cry!

  • Cut their food down gradually over a couple of months so that their stomach shrinks and they don’t feel as hungry.Generally if your dog is very overweight they should be fed half the amount that you are feeding at present.

  • Some owners may feel like they are then feeding nothing at all. If this is the case, consider feeding a light diet which contains less calories per gram of food or bulk the food up with vegetables if your dog will eat them.


There are now foods on the market which will switch on fat burning genes so you can continue to feed them a good amount but they will burn the calories faster. Ask your vet about such diets. It doesn't really matter how much food the manufacturer advises that you feed. If your dog is fat then you are giving too much.

  • Weigh out the food and stick to the same amount every day.If your dog is not losing weight then you will know how much to reduce it by.It is surprising how many calories can be in a biscuit or dental chew.

  • If you love to give treats then try weighing out your dogs food for the day and leaving it on the side. Give some of their daily allowance instead of a treat if they have been good. Look for treats with a lower fat content and limit them to 1 or 2 a day. If they are soft enough break them in half and only give half at a time.

  • Avoid human food while your dog is on a diet the calorie content will often be a lot higher than you think.

 

Exercise

Exercise plays a very important role in helping your dog lose weight. Overweight animals will generally be more lethargic and therefore will need less to eat. By getting them moving you will help burn calories and then will be able to feed a little more.  Dogs should be exercised at least twice a day for twenty to thirty minutes.


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