Obesity in dogs is on the rise and poses a serious health risk to our canine companions. If your pooch seems extra cuddly they may be carrying a little too much weight. Today, our Staten Island vets explain how you can tell if your dog might be overweight, and what you should do.
Is my dog overweight?
If you suspect your canine companion is overweight, take him or her to the vet for a checkup. Your veterinarian will weigh your dog, conduct a thorough examination to determine your dog's overall health, and then inform you if your dog is overweight based on their breed and build.
Carrying excess weight can be a contributing factor to many serious and painful conditions in dogs. Which 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 Pup's Ribs
- If your dog is of normal weight, you should be able to feel their ribs without a thick layer of fat covering them. Your dog's chest should be wider than their abdomen, and there should be a noticeable tuck-up from chest to stomach around where their waist should be (see illustration below).
Checkout Your Pooch's Figure
- Dogs that are overweight will generally have no visible waistline and no distinction between the chest and stomach when viewed side-on. See the overweight dog chart 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 sign of a serious underlying illness, so if you suspect your dog is overweight, you should take him to the vet right away. If your veterinarian determines that your dog is overweight and that there are no underlying illnesses causing the weight gain, he or she will recommend a diet and exercise plan to help you get your dog'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 twice-daily walks and outdoor playtime once a day. Playing fetch or frisbee can help you and your dog bond while also providing your pup with a fun way to burn off some extra calories.
Diet & Feeding
- Your veterinarian will be able to calculate the exact number of calories to feed your dog at each meal and prescribe a low-calorie diet food to help your pup achieve a healthier weight. Make sure your dog eats at the same time every day and that you carefully measure out the portions based on the ideal weight for their breed (or size).
Yearly (or Twice-Yearly) Checkups
- Even if you are confident that your dog is in good health, routine wellness exams (physical examinations) are recommended. Annual or biannual wellness exams allow your veterinarian to monitor your pet's weight and detect early signs of illness, allowing conditions to be treated before they worsen.
If your dog begins following 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.