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Is your dog obese or overweight? Here’s how to tell.

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Let’s talk about dog obesity.

Yep, I went there, I want to discuss overweight dogs, why this is dangerous and how we can fix it.

Just like there is an obesity crisis in the human world, there is fast becoming a dog obesity crisis too.

It’s a topic that is coming up more frequently in the world of pet and veterinary research and it’s only been getting worse.

In fact, dog obesity has now become one of the most common nutritional disorders that vets treat! This is serious.

In recent studies, approximately 59% of dogs were overweight or obese. Approximately 65% of adult dogs assessed were overweight while 9% were obese. Approximately 37% of young dogs under 2 assessed were overweight with 3% being obese.

The numbers are on the rise.

If you are concerned that your dog may be overweight or obese, then let’s talk about what problems obesity is causing our dogs and how we can overcome and prevent this from happening.

What is dog obesity?

It’s kind of easy to guess. It’s a dog that has surpassed overweight and has now moved into the dangerous weight zone. It’s a dog carrying way too much excess body fat for their size.

Some signs that your dog is overweight and possibly obese include:

  • Not being able to feel your dog’s ribs and spine easily
  • Not seeing a slight narrowing between the end of their rib-cage and hips (a waist)
  • Your dog’s collar not fitting anymore
  • A fuller face
  • Laziness and no desire to play or walk
  • Excessive panting

What are some things that cause dog obesity?

Yes, feeding your dog too much food is a VERY common and serious cause, but there is also:

  • The age of your dog
  • The sex of your dog
  • Your dog’s reproductive status
  • Whether or not your dog is neutered and/or spayed
  • How active your dog is
  • The lifestyle and environment you create for your dog
  • Underlying diseases that contribute to your dog not being able to exercise
  • Certain breeds are more prone to weight gain
  • Hormonal disorders that cause your dog to overeat
  • Steroid medication
  • An under-active thyroid gland

So, while over feeding your dog is one of the main causes of dog obesity, it’s always important to consider all the facts so that you can make an educated decision on how you want to move forward with helping your dog to lose weight (always consult your vet to help diagnose).

Now, to really drive the point home that dog obesity is serious and dangerous for your dog, let’s look at how dog obesity can affect your dog.

Dog obesity can:

  • Shorten your dogs life span
  • Affect your dogs quality of life
  • Cause arthritis
  • Cause ligament strain
  • Cause slipped discs
  • Cause heart and respiratory disease
  • Cause skin diseases
  • Cause liver problems
  • Cause diabetes and more!

Do we really want our dogs to suffer so much when most cases of obesity can be avoided with diet and exercise?

It’s all starting to sound familiar. Every person has heard the key to a healthy life is a balance of diet and exercise. Well, now it’s time to bring that balance to our dogs.

Why is food the number one contributing factor to our dogs becoming overweight and obese?

Food is so often a bonding tool. We use treats to build trust and train. We structure meal time so that our dogs can learn to trust and depend on us. And when we feel guilty about something – we often feed them a little extra as our way of saying we’re sorry and we love you.

Then there’s feeding your dog food scraps from your table even after they’ve had a full meal. Or you’re having a treat, I can’t not give my furbaby a treat! The quality of the food you give your dog is a contributor as well – how fatty is too fatty?

And then, we have measuring the food. Who does that and do you do it all the time? If you do, then you are off to a perfect start!!

In recent studies, it is said that:

  • Approximately 22% of dog owners have overfed their dog at one time or other to keep them happy
  • Approximately 20% of dog owners measure their dogs food – only 20%!
  • Approximately 54% of dog owners feed their dogs when they beg
  • Approximately 87% of dog owners often guess the amount they feed their dogs
  • Approximately 24% of dog owners class their dog as overweight
  • Approximately 64% of dog owners felt their dog had at least 1 sign of being overweight

The stats go on! And the numbers are astounding. And it seems none of us are really innocent when it comes to keeping our dogs food intake balanced and healthy.

So here are some top tips to help simplify keeping your dog in their healthy weight range:

  1. Measure and weight your dog’s food. Find out what is best for their breed and size and then stick to the food measurement.
  2. Track their food intake. Spend a week tracking and documenting everything you feed them (try to get everyone involved) this will help you know exactly how much you really are feeding them!
  3. Incorporate lower calorie foods that are high in protein and fibre to help keep them fuller longer but with fewer calories – Read our blog on Pumpkin to give you some easy ideas!
  4. Avoid feeding them human meals. If you’ve cooked a meal for the humans in your household it’s most likely not going to be suitable for the pooch! They digest foods differently and their tummies weren’t designed to digest human herbs and spices. While dogs can eat certain human foods, meals are different and need to be avoided.
  5. Use slow feeder bowls to help slow down the eating times so that your dog feels fuller for longer while eating less.
  6. Use interactive feeding methods like the Snufflemat or the Qwizl to keep their brains stimulate, their bodies moving and their tummies fed!
  7. Try feeding your dog a few smaller meals a day rather than one or two larger meals a day. It gives their tummies a chance to burn through the smaller meals quicker.
  8. Make your dogs last meal earlier in the day. Dogs don’t burn that many calories while sleeping so feeding them earlier in the night gives their bodies a chance to use that food as fuel.
  9. No more feeding your dog scraps from the table. As cute and sad as they look, every extra morsel of food adds up an can be the very reason your dog becomes overweight or obese.

Lastly, no matter how you choose to adjust your dog’s eating habits, if they aren’t moving, they aren’t burning fuel for energy – which means they are storing it as fat. Take your dog for regular, daily walks and don’t forget to play with them too!! All movement is good movement!

Has your dog ever been overweight or obese? What are things that you did to help them get into shape? We’d love to hear from you! Information shared is a potential life spared. Leave a comment or email us at [email protected].

Paws of Love,

Sarah (fur mum to Frank) xo

P.S. Are you in the Frank and Jellys ‘Doggy Detectives’ Facebook group? It’s a place where fur mums and dads go to make friends, test doggy products and share stories on best products. PLUS we always share tips and tricks as well as offering advice and sharing experiences when one of our furry friends is not well or not behaving! It’s great fun and it’s absolutely FREE to join! Come join the fun HERE xo.

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