One of the most common medical issues we see in dogs is obesity. Many people don’t recognize it as a medical problem as it has been so common to see an overweight dog. Just like in people, carrying too much weight can predispose you to many other health issues like joint problems, diabetes, heart disease and even skin irritations, just to name a few.
When is a dog considered to be overweight?
The ideal weight of your dog is just a number. More importantly, it is how your dog looks and feels. You should be able to feel the ribs with just a bit of pressure but not be able to see them. If you have to push in to feel the ribs, your dog is probably overweight. We should also see a nice tuck in at the waist behind the last rib giving an hourglass figure!
Are some breeds prone to obesity?
Many breeds are prone to obesity, too many to be listed here! It is much easier to prevent your dog from getting overweight than it is to get the weight off. Dogs that are fed regular meals are less likely to be overweight than those free fed. Also, treats and extras should provide no more than 20% of your dog’s calories. After your pet is spayed or neutered, their metabolism can slow down by as much as 20% which may require you feeding your dog less food. Feeding guidelines on most pet foods estimate the amount needed to feed an unneutered male dog. If you have, for example, a spayed female dog, she may need considerably less food to maintain a healthy weight.
Why should there be a weight consultation at the clinic?
As mentioned above, we see a lot of secondary health issues related to obesity. Maintaining a healthy weight can prevent those issues from developing. Studies have proven that dogs that maintain a healthy weight can live longer (up to three years in one study!) than dogs that are overweight. We all want our pets to live as long as possible. In addition, your dog will have more energy and feel better! We can offer several tips and tricks to help with weight loss. Obviously, diet is a large component, however, exercise is very important as well. We may be able to help you recognize areas where you can be doing a little more to help with weight loss. We use a special program to calculate the ideal weight of your dog based on 4 different body measurements. We find this gives us a more accurate indication of how much your dog should actually weigh and makes the weight loss program even more successful.