Does Your Dog Need a Diet?
Dieting is a long established phenomenon, with obesity a widespread problem in the modern world. But it sadly doesn’t stop with us humans, our dogs are getting fat too! This is no longer an isolated problem, reports put the proportion of overweight dogs in the United States alone at over half the canine population! The time has long passed for this issue to be tackled. But the question is, do people realise that their dog is overweight, and what should they do about it?
What is making our dogs fat?I don’t want to play the blame game, but sadly the answer is, WE ARE! Historically, in the wild, there is little evidence of dog obesity, so sadly it is a modern, domestic issue. Dogs are simply consuming too many calories, and not getting enough exercise. This is the route of the problem. Our lifestyle has, to a certain extent, been adopted by dogs. We have to carry the can for this, after all we feed our dogs and we should be the ones exercising them. To tackle obesity in dogs you have to know when you are facing it! It’s a sad fact that a large proportion of dog owners don’t realise their canine is a holding a few extra pounds. Luckily there is a technique, used by vets worldwide, that is a simple way of determining this. You can try it yourself!
The Body Condition ScoreTo find your out if your dog is on the podgy side, the first and most important part of this technique, is to feel the dog’s ribs. This works with any breed. If your furry friend is in a normal weight range you should be able to feel their ribs easily. There should be a little fat around them, but each rib should be distinct. If you cannot feel the ribs, or there is a lot of fat around them, it is a clear sign your canine companion is in need of a diet! Still not sure? Try another step. Look at your dog from above. You should be able to see a definite waist behind the ribs. If the area between the ribs and hips is wider than the hips then your dog is very overweight! You should also be especially aware of your dog’s weight as it ages. As your dog enters its senior years, activity levels will of course decrease. But you have to make sure that the number of calories taken in by your older canine also goes down.
Not to be Taken Lightly!Overweight canines can suffer from many serious ailments:
- At least one quarter of overweight dogs develop serious joint problems. Carrying the extra weight causes them to become damaged. Arthritis can develop, and the pain and joint changes associated with hip dysplasia become far, far worse.
- Diabetes is very common in overweight pooches. This is because there is an increase in insulin secretion to handle the increased blood glucose level in the chubby canine.
- High Blood Pressure – the heart has an increased workload, pumping blood to excess tissue. Which can ultimately lead to congestive heart failure.
- The additional fat in the chest can restrict the expansion of the lungs, leading to poor respiration. Meanwhile there is a greater demand to supply oxygen to the larger body.
Breed MattersANY dog can be overweight, but there are some breeds that are prone to gaining an extra kilo or more. So if you have one of the following breeds you need to be extra, extra careful: [one_half_first]
- Labrador Retriever
- English Bulldog
- Cairn Terrier
- Cocker Spaniel
- Golden Retriever
- Scottish Terrier
- Pit Bull
- St. Bernard
- Cavalier King Charles
- Basset Hound