Learned by culture, we most often feel that the more we feed, the more we show care and love and we mostly apply the same to our dogs. This is a very common mistake that we all do. We often overfeed our dogs with so much more than they need, just to make sure that they are happy. However this can lead them to obesity, and obesity in dogs can have a lot of bad consequences on their health and quality of life.
How to know if your dog is overweight/obese?
When a dog is at good a weighing measure you should be able to feel the dog’s ribs in the side of his/her chest. A dog’s ribs should be slightly visible when looking down on your dog, when looking at the dog’s back the waist and the ribs should form a slight hourglass shape. The more the dog is overweight the less the hourglass shape will be visible, instead a round shape will take place. If you cannot feel or see any of these signs then most probably your dog is overweight and may be obese.
What to do if your dog is overweight/obese?
1- Change in diet
You should definitely decrease the amount of food that you are giving your dog. In average you should decrease the amount by 20% until they reach a healthy weight. For a more accurate measure, you could know how much the calorie intake that your dog should have is. This can be provided by the following simple equation to calculate the metabolic energy requirement (MER):
MER(kcal)= 132 x (body weight in kilograms)0.75
You should put in mind that there are other factors that might affect the equation, for example puppies, working dogs and pregnant dogs should take twice the normal calorie intake, while senior dogs should only take 80% of the normal calorie intake. Learn here about the common dry food ingredients and what to look for.
2- Exercise, exercise and exercise
Trust you are doing yourself and your dog a huge favor by maintaining at least a daily hour for exercise. This will not only help the dog lose weight but will also improve his/her health in general and increase their life expectancy. Read about the rules of walking your dog.
If you have already tried and failed doing this, you should consult a vet for further assistance.
Why is obesity dangerous?
As obesity causes health problems related to the heart, liver and joints in humans, it also has the same consequences in dogs. The following are 4 common bad consequences of obesity:
- Shorter life span. A study on Labradors found that dogs with ideal weight tend to live 2 years longer than overweight dogs.
- Sub-clinical diseases. These are the common diseases that hit overweight dogs like diabetes, cholesterol and gastrointestinal diseases.
- Heat intolerance and exercise intolerance. Dogs that are overweight tend to be lazy and don’t tolerate hot weather as much. Read more about heatstroke in dogs.
- Osteoarthritis. Arthritis or osteoarthritis can affect any joints in dogs but is particularly common in hips, knees and elbows. 44% of overweight dogs suffer from this.
We all love our dogs for sure, but we need to learn that loving someone doesn’t always mean feeding them. There are so many ways that we can show our dogs that we love them without providing excess amounts of food.