Ask: Someone recently hinted that my dog is overweight. How can I tell if that’s true, and if so, what can I do about it?
Answer: It is estimated that approximately 25-30% of the general dog population is obese, with approximately 45% of dogs ages 5-11 being overweight. The good news is that canine obesity is preventable and treatable.
Personally, keeping my dog’s weight within a healthy range has a lot to do with my mission of trying to get Tillie to be at least 20 years old (God willing). And before you roll your eyes, keep in mind that the world record for longevity for dogs is 30! Veterinarians have always known that heavy dogs live shorter lives than lean dogs, typically between 6 and 12 months, but a large lifespan study of Labrador Retrievers found that even being moderately overweight can reduce life expectancy. of a dog’s life in almost two years.
Health problems associated with canine obesity include cancer, urinary bladder stones, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, osteoarthritis, and faster degeneration of Fluffy’s joints. Additionally, overweight dogs tolerate heat less and are more prone to complications from anesthesia.
Your vet can help you determine if Fluffy is overweight, but if you can’t feel her ribs to begin with, she’s overweight. A normal sized dog will have an obvious waistline. In other words, when you look at her from above, there should be a slight indentation or contour towards her hips, rather than a straight line. With a dog of appropriate weight, when looking at his belly line from the side, you will be able to see a “flex” towards his hindquarters rather than a straight line. And an overweight dog’s back will appear broad and flat.
Start by weighing your dog. Your vet can suggest a healthy target weight. Obviously, the formula for Fluffy to lose weight is the same as for us: more exercise and less food. Increasing your exercise a bit, along with reducing your caloric intake a bit, can make a big difference over time. And I hate to say this, but when you look at the ingredients in “weight management” dog foods, they’re generally not good. So if your dog already has a pretty good dog food, just make the portions a bit smaller, and you can help him cope with an overall calorie reduction by feeding smaller portions more frequently throughout the day.
Try to cut down on treats and the types of treats you give her as well. Switch to fresh or frozen green beans, broccoli and cauliflower…or apple wedges.
If you’re not walking Fluffy, start. It doesn’t have to be 5 miles. It may be around the block. Any increase in exercise will make a difference. And keep it moving. We are not here to sniff! We’re here “on patrol” trying to get some exercise. You shouldn’t let your dog stop sniffing more often than every five minutes at the most.
Try adding the search routine to Fluffy’s schedule. If you have a pool, introduce it to her. When I got my dog into the pool, he started out wearing a life jacket. That way, he didn’t have to worry about paddling to stay afloat. Swimming is an excellent exercise for your dog. Even if it’s only for 10 minutes.
Finally, regular weigh-ins, at a minimum once a month, are an important component of successful canine weight loss and hold everyone accountable. Weight Watchers has been using this principle for decades.
Ultimately, not only will you feel better helping Fluffy shed a pound or two, but she’ll likely live longer. And I’m trying to take my dog’s last day as far as he can by virtue of the things I do now.
Originally from Louisiana, Gregg Flowers is a local dog trainer who “teaches dogs and trains people.” Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or dogsbestfriendflorida.com.