As per global data, the rate of obesity in dogs varies from 24 to 44 percent. In the U.S., pet obesity is considered an epidemic as nearly 50 percent of dogs who come for treatment in different hospitals are overweight. Unfortunately, like humans, obesity brings a range of health problems with itself. Dogs can suffer from joint pain, osteoarthritis, diabetes, cancer, heart diseases, bladder stones, and many other issues. A study shows that more weight can cut life by about 2.5 years than a normal-weight dog.
Obesity is alarming. But how would you know if your dog is obese? Before delving, let’s find out a few reasons that contribute to the factor.
There is a combination of factors that influence the body weight of your dog. Some of them include:
- Chronic overfeeding is the foremost reason for an obese pet. Letting your dog eat scraps from your table, getting them treats whenever out, finishing the leftover ice creams and sweets are the few reasons that can add calories to your dog’s diet. However, these food items are not crafted for your pet. Along with calories, your dog is eating starch, sugar, preservatives, milk-based products that may cause allergies, indigestion, and other illnesses.
- Environmental factors like rain can restrict outdoor movement. Dog walkers suggest that every pet-owner should shop dog raincoats for keeping dogs dry and warm and continue walking.
- Your busy schedule can affect the life of your pet. You may not take him for walks, and extra fat starts to accumulate if he is otherwise not active.
- Some breeds like Labrador Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels, Terriers, and Sheepdogs are prone to obesity.
- Sometimes age and certain medications can contribute to being overweight.
- Musculoskeletal and developmental abnormalities also affect the weight of the dogs.
Knowing If Your Dog Is Fat
1. Weighing More
The easiest way to learn if your dog is overweight is to weigh him at your veterinarian. The examination includes measuring the dog’s size and determining its body type and shape, as per the breed. The general body condition scores vary from one to nine, where category one to three denotes underweight and six to nine, overweight. Healthy dogs fall under the scores between four to five.
2. Feel His Ribs
Although a vet can diagnose the weight issues in pets, you can detect primary signs at home. The fit dog is one with less prominent ribs, but you can feel them effortlessly. For overweight dogs, the ribs, spines, and bones are less visible due to excessive fat deposits. You have to press hard to search for them.
3. Prominent Abdomen
Ideally, the dog’s chest should be broader than his abdomen and tucked up. The overweight dog has no waist. It means when you see the dog from the side, it appears to be swagging. Moreover, there’s no distinction between the chest and the stomach. The excess fat deposit can make the stomach appear round and swinging.
4. Perirenal Fat Pads
If you see lumps just behind the rib cage at either side of the spine, you may probably confuse it with tumor growths. Visit your vet, and he diagnoses it as fat pads. Perirenal fat pads are the discreet fat deposits on various parts of the body of canines. In some animals, you may find it between their legs that forces them to waddle while they walk. In others, it may be on the top of the hip area.
5. Lacking Physical Activity
Fat dogs are inactive. They will avoid spending time conducting regular activities like playing and jumping. They might need help getting inside the car or taking the stairs. Extra fats can restrict their swift movement and exhibit shortness of breath and constant panting.
The Next Step
Once you’re aware of your dog’s weight issue, it’s time to develop a weight loss plan. Your vet might hand you a diet chart that can guide you to minimize the calorie intake. Ensure to feed your dog at the scheduled time with the recommended portion. Ask your family to follow the same routine. Take your dog for regular walks and other physical activities he enjoys. Monitor his weight regularly to see if the weight loss strategy is working. Keep in mind the routine will take quite some time to show the real change in the weight.
As a pet parent, your dog will always be cute for you when it is lean or fat. However, an obese dog is never healthy. Putting on weight brings many physical and emotional complications. Avoid this stage by fostering healthy eating habits and a proper exercise regime. Remember, consistency in weight management can lead to a fit and happy dog and contented owner.