Did you know that obesity in dogs is increasing? This poses a serious health risk to our canine friends. Here, our Fort Worth vets list some signs your dog might be overweight and what you can do next.
Is my dog overweight?
The first thing you should do if you think your dog or cat may be overweight is to make an appointment for a checkup with your veterinarian. In order to determine your dog's general health, your veterinarian will weigh him or her. Based on the dog's breed and build, the vet will also perform a thorough examination.
Carrying excess weight can contribute to many serious, painful diseases and health conditions in dogs. This is why it's vital to ensure your dog maintains a healthy weight as they age.
If you aren't sure whether your dog should see your vet, here are some signs that can indicate whether your dog is carrying too many extra pounds.
Consider Your Dog's Fitness Level
Even walking relatively slowly, overweight dogs often pant. They may also walk slower or need to take more naps or breaks than before.
Feel For Your Pup's Ribs
Without a layer of fat covering them, can you feel your dog's ribs? This is a strong hint that your dog is in a healthy weight range. Your dog's chest should be larger than its abdomen, and you should be able to see a tuck-up from the chest to the stomach at the approximate location of their waist (see illustration below).
Examine Your Pooch's Figure
When looking at a dog from the side, you typically won't be able to see their waistline or tell when their chest and stomach are different sizes if they are overweight. For a better idea of how a healthy dog appears from the side, see the illustration below.
How can I help my dog lose weight?
Weight gain can be a sign of a serious underlying illness, so if you suspect your dog is overweight, take him to the vet right away. If your vet determines that your dog is overweight during a physical exam and that there are no underlying illnesses causing the weight gain, they will recommend a diet and exercise plan to help get your dog's weight back on track safely.
Here are a few things that your vet may recommend to help your four-legged friend shed those extra pounds.
Maintain a regular exercise schedule for your dog, including twice-daily walks and outdoor playtime. Playing fetch or frisbee can help you and your dog bond while also providing a fun way for your pup to burn off some extra calories.
Diet & Feeding
Your veterinarian will be able to calculate the exact number of calories to feed your dog at each meal and will prescribe a low-calorie diet food to help your dog lose weight. Make sure your dog eats at the same time every day, and that you carefully measure out the portions based on their breed's ideal weight (or size).
Yearly (or Twice-Yearly) Checkups
Routine wellness exams (physical examinations for your dog) are crucial, even if you are certain there is nothing wrong with them. The opportunity to monitor your pet's weight and identify early disease symptoms is provided by annual or biannual wellness exams. This allows your veterinarian to treat conditions early on before they worsen.
If your dog begins following a weight loss plan, visit your vet for follow-up appointments so that your pet's progress can be monitored and dietary adjustments made if necessary
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Always follow your veterinarian's advice.