Fat Dogs Are Not Healthy

August 8, 2012

Dog obesity is reaching crisis stage.  According to “The Journal of Applied Veterinary Medicine,” nearly 35% of pet dogs are overweight.  Those extra pounds can cause serious healthy issues for a dog and determine how he lives his life and how long he lives.

Overweight dogs are predisposed to several serious conditions.  Arthritis is common when a dog is fat, because the extra weight puts undue stress on the animal’s joints.  Symptoms of arthritis include limping and stiffness, inability to participate in previous activities and can even include behavioral changes.  After all, pain would make any of us grumpy.

 Heart disease and high blood pressure affect dogs, as well as humans.  Obesity stresses the heart, arteries and other internal organs.  Look for coughing, breathing issues, loss of appetite, inability to exercise and weight loss.

If you are unsure if your dog needs to lose weight, run your hands down his sides from his neck to his tail.  Can you feel his ribs?  You should feel just a slight layer of fat covering them.  Looking at him from the side, does the abdominal area show a slight curving in as it reaches the hips?  If not, or you suspect that your dog is overweight, talk to your veterinarian.  He or she will be your best guide for choosing a proper diet and exercise for your pet.

Diet and exercise together are the keys to getting your dog in shape.  There are many choices on the market of “light” dog food.  If you can afford it, a grain-free food would certainly lower the calories.  Otherwise, look for a food that contains NO wheat or corn or by-products.  Talk to your vet about food choices.  He or she can help you decide on the correct feeding amounts in order for your dog to lose weight.

Gator, our over-sized Weimaraner who is as tall as a female Great Dane, developed a weight problem.  His daily walk wasn’t enough exercise for him.  Visits to the dog park were of little help, because Gator would not leave my side.  At my son’s Arkansas home with lots of open land and no other dogs in sight, Gator ran and exercised as a Weimaraner should.  But those visits were not frequent enough to keep him in shape.  Gator would have benefitted from younger, more active owners but since that is not his lot in life, we had to find a suitable diet to keep him healthy while losing the extra pounds.

What worked best for our dog was a high-quality, dry dog food mixed with canned green beans.  He loves those beans,  which provided fiber and a “full” feeling without adding calories.  We adjusted Gator’s portions of food down as he lost  weight, and now he is on a maintenance amount of his regular kibble, with the occasional green beans thrown in for his pleasure.  He’s happier and looks so much healthier.

Always ask your veterinarian before changing your dog’s diet.  What works for one animal may not be the right diet for all.

 

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