An important aspect of being a responsible dog owner is being sure your dog is in shape. You may think your fat dog is adorable just the way he is, but the truth is he could already be at risk for health problems. Certain breeds will be affected more than others by even the slightest weight gain, so it’s important to maintain your dog’s fitness throughout his entire life.
Dogs gain weight the same way humans do: by eating too much and exercising too little. Dogs that eat excessive amounts of treats, table scraps, and food at mealtimes will gain weight quickly, especially if they are not very active. Before starting any new diet or exercise plan for your dog, have it approved by your veterinarian.
One simple solution to jump-start your dog’s weight loss is to feed your dog the “Show Dog Diet.” This includes feeding your dog his normal food in the morning, but replacing his second meal with mostly green beans (low sodium), a bit of kibble, and a doggie multi-vitamin in the evening. Your dog should lose one pound if you feed him this for about one week. You can then switch back to feeding your dog his normal food, decreasing it by 10 percent.
Switching your dog’s treats to healthier options will help him lose weight, too. Cut back on calories by greatly reducing the amount of treats given at a time. Also, try replacing biscuits, cheese, and other high-fat treats with fresh chopped carrots, apples, or green beans that are free of added flavoring. Your dog will most likely still enjoy this new, crunchy treat!
Lots of Exercise
Of course, additional exercise will help your dog lose weight. Most dogs love to go for a walk, run, swim, or hike, so be sure to get outside and enjoy some outdoor activities with him! For an obese dog, it’s best to start out slow and increase exercise over time once he starts losing weight. However, be sure you aren’t overexerting him, especially if he has a medical condition, and watch for signs of heatstroke.
Breeds Most Likely to Become Overweight
Dachshunds, Basset Hounds, and other long and low-bodied breeds that become overweight strain their already short legs, which can make it painful or difficult for them to walk or sit. Brachycephalic breeds (meaning they have short noses and flat faces) such as Pugs, Boxers, and Bulldogs have an increased risk of breathing and respiratory problems from being overweight. Larger breeds such as Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers, Boxers, and Rottweilers also tend to gain weight quickly. Similarly, even the slightest weight gain for small breeds such as Chihuahuas and Miniature Pinschers can cause health problems.
Health Problems Caused by Obesity in Dogs
In addition to shortened life expectancy, overweight and obese dogs are at higher risk for diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, breathing problems, and cancer. Have your veterinarian monitor your dog’s health and weight frequently to be sure he is losing weight and improving his overall health. Even the slightest difference will improve his overall quality of life.