Obesity among dogs is a common problem, and a serious one as it creates a greater risk for other medical problems. How do you tell if your dog is overweight? Following are a few tips that will help you determine if his weight is healthy or not.
Check your dog’s ribs.
First, stand above your dog and look down at him. Behind his ribs there should be a visible indentation. Next, place both your hands on his ribs. You should be able to feel them but they shouldn’t be visible. If your dog’s ribs stick out visibly then chances are he is underweight. If you can’t feel his ribs chances are that he is overweight.
Weigh your dog.
Your veterinarian can weigh your dog on a platform scale, specifically designed for pets. If you have a small-sized dog you can also weigh him at home. Pick him up and step on your home scale. Check your joint weight, then put your dog down. Step on the scale again, alone. Check your weight and subtract it from your joint weight to get your dog’s current weight.
Now that you know your dog’s weight how do you know if it’s an appropriate weight for him? Your veterinarian can help you determine your dog’s optimum weight. It’s different for each dog and depends on the dog’s size, temperament, and activity level.
A healthy weight loss program
Dogs love to eat and will usually eat whatever they are given. It’s your job to make sure that what you give your dog is healthy, and to make sure your dog doesn’t have the opportunity to overeat. If you suspect your dog is overweight speak to your veterinarian for some tips on a healthy weight loss program. Following are some suggestions:
- Exercise your dog on a regular basis. If your dog is not used to exercise start slowly with short activity periods, and gradually increase the exercise time. Begin with walking and, when your dog shows signs of increased fitness, move to games that require running, such as "fetch."
- To ensure your dog doesn’t overeat don’t leave his food bowl out and available to him all day. Instead, divide his daily food allowance into two to four small meals per day.
- Decrease the number of treats you give your dog, and make sure the treats you give him are healthy. Don’t feed your dog “people” food.
- If you have more than one dog feed them one at a time. This ensures there is no opportunity for one dog to eat from the other dog’s bowl, in addition to his own.
- Make sure that all household and outdoor garbage is covered securely so your dog doesn’t have an opportunity to snack from the garbage.
- Let your friends and neighbors know that for health reasons they should not be feeding your dog.
- Make sure there is fresh water available to your dog at all times.
If your dog is overweight speak to your veterinarian to determine that his weight is not due to hereditary defects or a medical problem. Dog’s that are overweight are not usually happy dogs, and as they grow older they may be very uncomfortable as a result of the excess weight they are carrying around. They are also more prone to joint and heart problems as well as skin problems, heat intolerance and a reduced ability to withstand surgery or disease. Remember, the best way to show your love for your dog is to keep him healthy and happy through diet and exercise.
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