Obesity is not only affecting humans, but also one of the leading causes of many health issues in pets. Reports according a 2018 survey conducted by the Association of Pet Obesity Prevention shows that about 56% of dogs in the United States are obese or overweight.
Hence, dog owners are now on the lookout for best practices and measures to help prevent obesity in their furry friends. Truth is that it may be hard dealing with obesity, so the saying, “prevention is better than cure” is quite valuable.
In this article, we shall discuss some simple ways to prevent obesity in dogs and help them maintain a healthy weight. But let’s first learn a little more about obesity in dogs.
What does obesity in dogs mean?
The recommended body weight of an adult dog is usually 70 – 80 lbs. on average. If your pooch weighs 10% or more than this normal range, it is considered overweight.
Experts have therefore advised that it is important to maintain a balance between lean body weight and fat in dogs. This helps to prevent excess weight, which causes extra strain on your dog’s bones, heart, and other important organs. Obesity makes your dog face many difficulties in their daily lives, and it may deteriorate their health and longevity.
Hence, as a dog owner, it is vital that you take your dog to a veterinarian for proper examination to determine if it is not overweight. This is important because several factors may influence the concept of obesity, such as Body Fat Percentage, Body Condition Score (BCS), and weight of the dog as per its gender, age, breed, and more.
Ways to prevent obesity in dogs
As mentioned earlier, it can be challenging adopting a practical action plan to help your dog lose weight. So, it is better to follow the easier methods highlighted below to help ensure your dog doesn’t follow the perilous path that leads to obesity.
1. Know your dog’s ideal weight and watch it
You can check with your veterinarian to determine your dog’s ideal weight based on their breed, size, and age. Your vet will show you the healthy range to maintain, and ensure you monitor it on a regular basis.
You can use your bathroom scale to weigh if you have a small dog breed. And for larger dogs, you can weight yourself first, then pick your dog and measure the value, then you minus the difference to know your dog’s actual weight.
However, if your dog cannot be picked up, you can take advantage of the free regular weigh-ins of most veterinarian offices. This way, you can easily monitor your dog’s weight to ensure they stay within the ideal range.
2. Exercise your dog regularly
Follow a daily routine that includes good amount of exercise. This may be a set time in the evening for long walks. Doing this consistently can help you dog maintain a healthy weight and improve their overall health and wellness. Moreover, every dog loves to spend outdoors to enjoy fresh air and the beauty of nature.
Apart from taking long walks, you can try other calorie-burning activities such as a long game of fetch, swimming, and running with you by your dog’s side.
The point is to keep your dog active and avoid subjecting them to a sedentary lifestyle. Put them through something demanding like running to help them build endurance.
Taking a walk with your dog also helps build mental stimulation and prevent some boredom-related behaviors in your furry friends.
3. Serve your dog the right food for their age
Many dog owners make the mistake of serving their puppy a general-purpose food. This often leaves these young dogs with higher calories than what they actually need, which puts them at risk of obesity.
You may need to work closely with your veterinarian to help you choose the appropriate kind of food for your dog. If you have puppies, there are foods formulated for that early stage, and this food should change normally as they grow older. More so, when your dog eventually becomes a senior, their dietary needs also changes.
Your veterinarian can guide you on dietary needs for every stage of your dog’s life.
4. Do not offer table scraps
Out of love and affection for your pooch, you may be tempted to give them leftovers from your dining plate, especially when they beg at your feet. But do not give in to their begging. The reason is simple – your dog might be taking unnecessary extra calories when they eat table scraps in addition to their normal meal. And this puts them at risk of obesity.
More so, most human foods are cooked with fatty oils and contain added seasonings, which may be harmful to your dog’s health.
That being said, it is advisable to stick to your dog’s food and offer them treats occasionally. And even if you decided to give your pooch table scraps occasionally, make sure the food is low in salt, calories, and fat.
5. Avoid overfeeding your dog
You need to practice portion control to help maintain a healthy weight and prevent obesity in your dog. Also, you need to pick specific feeding times and stick to them. This way, your dog will easily get used to a particular time to eat. This will minimize their tendency to eat too much and beg for food.
Again, make sure you avoid keeping your dog’s bowl full at all times. This encourages free feeding, which can lead to overfeeding and weight gain.
You need to watch it as your dogs will always want to eat more calories than they actually need, but this does not necessarily mean they are hungry. Let’s just say they have an instinct to eat more when food is available. Perhaps they’re trying to load up against food scarcity in the next few hours.
6. Use interactive feeding toys
When you introduce interactive feeding toys into your dog’s routine, they tend to burn calories as they work for their food. These toys provide mental stimulation and force your dog to eat more slowly. Besides, it even makes mealtime fun for your pooch.
You may try slow-feed bowls that makes your dog pass through maze-like barriers to reach their food. Likewise, you may try toys that dispense food and entertain your dog in the process.
ConclusionBy following the measures above, you will counter obesity in your dog and improve their quality of life dramatically. You may not know but these preventive measures will help your furry friend dodge many of the health conditions that affect overweight or obese animals. This will help prevent unnecessary spending on procedures to help treat obesity.
More so, when you prevent obesity in your dog, they get to enjoy increased level of happiness, as they become more sociable and fun to be around.
Now, one interesting benefit many dog owners fail to recognize is the fact that while you take your dog on a walk in an attempt to keep them fit, you’re also boosting your cardio levels and improving your overall-being. It’s a win-win situation for you, especially if you keep a New Yorker’s kind of busy routine.