An alarming number of pets in America or overweight, and an even more alarming number are actually obese. Obesity is when a pet is more than just a little overweight, and his health, even his activity level is beginning to become compromised by the amount of fat he carries on his body. While the weight is hard on the joints and bones in the legs, it is even worse on the spine due the dog’s body shape. His back may sag, and he can even develop chronic pain conditions due to the added strain. What causes pet obesity?
According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, an estimated 55.6% of dogs in the United States are obese. In today’s society of mobility or conveniences, it is no wonder that the human race is growing in weight right along with our pets! Just as humans chow on the readily available fast food, our make our pets eat the doggy equivalent of fast food called kibble or canned diets. These foods are overly processed, full of sodium and sugars, and made for the sole purpose of providing a quick and easy meal for the household pet.
These pre-made diets do not always carry everything our dogs truly need to thrive, but they also may carry far more than what our dogs need. This is especially true in caloric count for an individual dog! Kibbles are compact pellets, each meant to have the same nutritional content as the next. When measured according to the label for your size dog you may be providing him the right amount of calories, but when inconsistencies or large gaps in the measuring table on the bag of your kibble bag are there you could be over feeding your canine companion. This could lead to liver disease, heart disease, early aging, high blood pressure and other preventable diseases. Brands that label dogs between 5 and 10 pounds as needing the same amount of food, despite their activity level or daily schedules is a perfect concoction for obesity.
Aside from the overabundance of food and type of food your pooch is ingesting on a daily basis, how is his activity level? Each breed, age, and personality of dog is going to be a little different. A tiny Yorkshire Terrier may be a working service dog and require more food than that of a larger Chihuahua that lays around the house all day. Likewise, a working Border Collie who spends his day pushing sheep around will need far more calories than a Labrador Retriever who’s only exercise is a short romp in the backyard with the kids. The more calories your dog burns, the more he needs to refuel and keep his body going strong. The less active your dog is, to less food he should be given so that his calories do not turn into unused fat cells.
You’ve heard it time and time again, both from your own doctor and your veterinarian; eat right and exercise! This is not just a phrase meant to be repeated and shrugged off. You are told this because those who say it really mean it! You have the choice of switching your dog to a different diet, or providing for him a more controlled portion in his meals. Consider his activity level. Does he work or does he lay about the house? What is his size and age? A growing puppy will require more food to reach his maximum size in comparison to an adult or senior dog. Choose a high protein and medium fat diet with absolutely no grains! It is those grains that turn to sugar and end up turning into fat cells in your dog’s body! Animal based fats and proteins are digested and absorbed, turning into usable energy for your dog to function, play, work, or walk with you!
You are also in full control over his exercise routines. Again, take a look at his age and breed. If he is a low energy or special needs type such as a Pug or English Bulldog that cannot handle vigorous exercise, a simple long, daily walk will give him the cardio he needs to use up those calories and burn off fat cells that he has collected over the years. However, if you have a higher energy dog that was originally bred to work, hunt, heard or serve some other physically demanding purpose you may want to consider increasing his exercise steadily over the course of a few weeks. You can even include dog sports such as agility, flyball or flying disc into his new exercise regimen for best results!
The Bottom Line
Leaving your pet to be obese is exceptionally unhealthy on both a mental and physical level. You are setting your dog up for diabetes, renal failure and depression. If he is uncomfortable in his own skin, cannot enjoy a good run or walk without limping or panting too heavily, it is up to you to change it.