Overweight dogs face an increased risk for a range of health problems. Not only that, those extra pounds can worsen existing ailments. Here, our Memphis vet explains how you can tell if your dog is overweight, and what you can do about it.
Assessing Your Dog's Weight
When you spend a lot of time with your pet, sometimes it's hard to tell if they're carrying more weight than they should. Luckily there are a few easy ways to tell if your dog might be overweight.
Signs That Your Dog May Be Overweight
You Can't Feel Your Dog's Ribs
If your dog is the correct weight you should not be able to see their ribs but you should be able to easily feel them by running your hand along your pet's chest.
If you can't feel your dogs ribs due to a layer of fat, your dog may be overweight.
Your Dog's Body Lacks Definition
Look at your dog from the side. Your dog's abdomen should be slimmer than their chest, this is called an abdominal tuck. If your dog's abdomen is the same size or bigger than their chest, there's a good chance that your dog is overweight.
Now it's time to look at your dog from above. While your dog is standing, look down at their physique. You should be able to easily spot where your dog's waist is. No waistline could be a sign that your dog is carrying a few extra pounds.
Lack of Enthusiasm for Physical Activities
If your dog used to be full of energy, but now prefers to sleep or lie around the house, your dogs weight might be slowing them down.
Lack of Stamina
Extra weight can be heavy for dogs to lug around. A dog that starts out on a walk full of energy but then tires quickly, might be carrying extra weight.
Refusing to Climb the Stairs
Once upon a time your dog would follow you everywhere, including up and down the stairs. Now your furry friend just can't be bothered? It's time to get your dogs weight checked.
Health Risks Faced by Overweight Dogs
As with people, there are a number of serious health risks associated with obesity in dogs. Here's just a few:
- joint disorders
- respiratory conditions
- high blood pressure
- immune dysfunction
- cancerous tumors
- reduced lifespan
How to Get Your Dog's Weight Back On-track
Before making any changes to your dog's diet or exercise plan, it's important to see your vet to establish what your dog's ideal weight is.
While you're there, your vet will check your dog for signs of any conditions that could be causing your dog to carry extra weight, such as diabetes, cushing's disease and hypothyroidism.
Following a thorough examination, your vet can calculate the number of calories your dog should be eating each day, and suggest possible changes to your pet's diet. While there are a number of foods available for canine weight loss, your pet may not need one. Your vet may simply advise you to reduce the amount of food you are giving your dog.
Chances are that your veterinarian will also suggest ways to safely increase your pet's activity level. Going for a brisk walk once or twice a day with your dog is a great way to help your pet get the exercise they need, and you'll feel great too. Getting your dog moving is key to slimming them down and improving your dog's overall health.
How To Monitor Your Dog's Weight Loss
Drop by your vet's office or use your home scale to weigh your dog every week or two. Typically, if you follow your vet's guidelines you can expect your pet to lose about 1% - 2% of their body weight each week.
Ongoing Weight Management
Once your dog reaches their ideal weight it's essential keep weighing your pet to make sure the weight doesn't slip back on. Your vet will help you to calculate the ideal number of calories that your dog should consume each day in order to maintain a healthy weight.
If you think your dog may be overweight, contact our Memphis vets to book an appointment today.
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