Obesity is a common issue for many Australian dogs, and if not noted and reversed early, it can in time lead to other serious problems including diabetes, heart disease, and breathing issues. It can also make the pain and other symptoms of arthritis in an older dog much worse.
Obesity affects a high percentage of dogs; like people, many of them eat more calories than they expel and this results in packing on the kilograms. Healthy dogs (and cats) don’t necessarily need to eat a lot, yet the pet food industry has us thinking we need to worry about underfeeding! What we don’t understand is that a healthy pet will eat when it wants to, and offering quality food with plenty of water is all we need to do when your dog is in good health.
Some physical disorders also cause weight gain, including heart, thyroid, and metabolic issues. Ageing will result in a slight slowing of the metabolism, and older pets may not exercise as much. Desexing your pet is not a cause of obesity!
Some breeds are more genetically prone to obesity; these include the Basset Hound, Beagle, Daschund, Cocker Spaniel, Labrador, Golden Retriever, Pug, Rottweiler, and Australian Cattle Dog.
Types of Canine Overeaters: dogs for whom food is their only reward; dogs who nibble and graze all day long; dogs who beg and lay a guilt trip every time their human steps into the kitchen; and dogs who refuse to eat dog food but will happily eat fatty human foods.
So how do you know if your dog is overweight?
Look at your dog from above. He should have a waist that is obviously seen between the bottom of the rib cage and the hips. You should be able to feel ribs gently through the body, and the abdomen should, when you look at your dog from the side, tuck up as opposed to hanging down.
If you believe (or know) your dog is overweight, talk to your vet. The vet will weigh your pet, and then assess his body condition and offer advice if needed to help your pet maintain a healthy body weight.
Steps you can take also include:
- Count calories and measure their meals
- Make treats count and offer non-food rewards
- Include vegetables in their diet
- Exercise daily, such as dog walking
- Limit carbohydrates
Loving your pet means not allowing him to become obese – so look after his health and wellbeing; love and overfeeding don’t go together!