Obesity in dogs is increasing and with it, health risks to our canine companions. Today our Douglasville vets explain how you can tell if your dog is overweight, and what you should do.
Is my dog overweight?
If you think that your canine companion may be overweight it's time to head to the vet for a checkup. Your veterinarian will weigh your pooch, perform a thorough examination to determine your pup's overall health, then let you know if your dog is overweight based on their breed and build.
Excess weight can be a contributing factor to several serious and painful conditions in dogs. This is why it's so important to help your dog maintain a healthy weight throughout their lifetime.
If you aren't sure whether a trip to the vet is called for, here are some signs that will give you a good indication of whether or not your dog is carrying extra weight.
Consider Your Dog's Fitness Level
- Overweight dogs often pant even when walking relatively slowly, and may walk slower or need to take more naps than before.
Feel For Your Dog's Ribs
- If your pooch is a healthy weight you should be able to feel their ribs without a thick layer of fat over them. Your pet's chest should be wider than their abdomen, there should be a noticeable tuck-up from chest to stomach about where their waist should be (see illustration below).
Note Your Dog's Side Profile
- Dogs that are overweight will generally have no visible waistline and no distinction between the chest and stomach when viewed side-on. See the illustration below to get a better understanding of how your dog should look from the side.
How can I help my dog lose weight?
Weight gain can be a symptom of a serious underlying illness, so if you think that your dog is overweight a trip to the vet is definitely called for. If your vet determines that your pup is overweight and there are no underlying illnesses causing the weight gain, they will recommend a diet and exercise plan to help get your pooch's weight back on track safely.
Here are a few things that your vet may recommend to help your four-legged friend shed those extra pounds.
- Maintain a regular exercise schedule for your dog, including going for walks at least twice a day and including outdoor playtime. Playing fetch or frisbee can help you and your dog to form a closer bond as well as provide your pup with a fun way to burn a few extra calories.
Diet & Feeding
- Your vet can calculate the correct number of calories to feed your dog at each meal and prescribe a low-calorie diet food to help your pet safely reach a healthier weight. Ensure your dog eats at the same time every day, and that you measure out the portions carefully based on the ideal weight for their breed (or size).
Yearly (or Twice-Yearly) Checkups
- Even if you feel sure there's nothing wrong with your dog, routine wellness exams are important. Annual or twice-yearly wellness exams give your vet the opportunity to monitor your pet's weight and spot the early signs of illness so that conditions can be treated before they become more serious.
If your dog is put on a weight loss plan, visit your vet for follow-up appointments so that your pet's progress can be monitored and dietary adjustments made if necessary.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.