Obesity and its health risks
Overweight and obese dogs have a hard life to live. Excess weight puts stress on your dog’s joints, heart, lungs, and other vital organs. Much like humans, dogs can develop long-term health issues due to excess weight such as diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and the inability to enjoy certain physical activities that should be easy for them to do. This is largely caused by excess caloric intake without balancing it out with the proper amount of activity.
In order to prevent extra weight in your dog, it’s important to be able to recognize what your pet’s ideal weight should be then be able to tell if they are going over that limit. This will depend on the size and breed of your dog. However, across all breeds you should be able to notice a tapering of your pet’s waist and be able to feel the outline of their ribs and spine when running your hands along their torso while they are standing. On the other end of the spectrum, ribs jutting out or being excessively visible from a distance could be indicators of malnutrition. (More on that later.)
Not exercising can lead to weight gain for your pup. Weight gain can lead to an inability or difficulty exercising, which is necessary to shed unnecessary pounds. This can understandably exacerbate the problem of poor health once it starts. Get in front of this issue before it becomes more difficult to solve.
While giving your pet treats for training purposes is a valid form of behavioral conditioning, taking this to an extreme can harm your dog’s health. Don’t give into those big puppy dog eyes by handing down too much human food from the dinner table. This can damage your relationship with your dog and your dog’s health in the long run. Dogs need a strong leader to follow. Setting rules then constantly breaking them will damage your alpha status just the same as it will damage their long-term health if they gain and are unable to lose excessive weight.
Even when a dog does manage to lose excess weight it has gained, the stress of carrying excessive weight, even for a short time, can have a negative effect on their health. Reducing the number of treats and overall calories you give your dog will help them to lose weight. However, if your dog is overweight, cutting their caloric intake excessively overnight can have negative
effects on their behavior and health as well. A ravenous dog is an unpredictable dog. If you need to reduce calories, start by cutting back on the number of treats you give your dog, then start giving them smaller portions of their regular meals. If you’re hoping to make dramatic changes in your dog’s diet, consult your veterinarian.
One of the best methods of helping your dog to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight is to make sure they get plenty of exercise. Healthy diet is still not enough to maintain a happy and healthy dog. Dogs are social, active mammals that will gain weight and become depressed without proper stimulation. Take your dog for at least two, 15 minute walks each day.
Breeds most prone to be overweight
It’s no secret that certain dog types are more challenging to care for than others. Certain dogs like Huskies, Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, and other herding and hunting varieties, require a lot of activity. These dogs may not be prone to being overweight, but they are very active and intelligent dogs who will become unhappy and destructive without proper exercise.
Exercise is also important for those more sedentary breeds. Pugs and Bulldogs, for example, are two breeds that have been tailor-bred for human companionship, rather than for hunting or herding. These dogs have short snouts (brachycephalic) which makes breathing, and therefore, exercising, more difficult. This predisposition to being sedentary can lead to long-term problems.
Dachshunds, Golden Retrievers, Basset Hounds, and Beagles, while less obviously ill-suited to exercise like a pug is, are still prone to being overweight. The Beagle, for example, has the appetite of a hunting dog (which it is) but also has a slower metabolism. All of these breeds often have mild dispositions which can lead to less exercise without human intervention.
Even those these dogs do not want or need to run around as much as a Husky, still need plenty of movement. They need their daily walks. If you don’t have the time in your day to go on multiplewalks, you might want to look into hiring a dog walker to help out. Get your pup moving!
The other side of the coin: Lack of appetite and malnutrition
Lack of appetite in a dog can be more indicative of an immediate need to be met. If your dog skips a meal here and there, this might not be cause for serious concern. However, sustained lack of appetite should be taken very seriously. Dental issues, various bacterial or viral infections might have a part to play. If you think that something is seriously wrong with your dog, take them to their vet as soon as possible.
Emotional and environmental stressors can also lead to lack of appetite in your pup. A move, sudden change in ownership, redecoration, or a vacation can throw your dog’s routine completely off course. This can be very confusing and stressful and can lead to them losing their appetite. Maintaining what semblance of routine you can during these transitions can help. Feeding your dog at its regular meal times, taking them for walks, and giving them their toys and beds with the smell of their homes and people can be very important to make them feel safe.
Balancing your dog’s food intake with proper levels of activity are the two easiest ways of keeping your dog at a healthy weight. Take Fido for walks, toss a ball around for catch, and keep the unnecessary treats to a minimum. You love your pup which means setting boundaries and making sure they get the exercise they need.