Dog Health & More
Thursday May 10th, 2012
Obesity in dogs is almost as common as obesity in humans. In fact, experts say somewhere between 25 and 40 percent of dogs are obese or likely to become obese.
The health consequences of these extra pounds are just as serious, too: overweight dogs put greater stress on their joints, hearts, lungs, liver, and kidneys. They're more prone to injury, and are at a higher risk during surgery.
However, there are other reasons a dog may gain weight, including:
If you give your pet a good once-over and think there's a weight problem, make an appointment with your vet. The doctor will give your dog a thorough physical, do some blood tests, and ask questions about eating habits and frequency. Then she can help you build a realistic, gradual, and low-risk weight loss plan. The plan will almost certainly include:
You might want to consider keeping a log of food intake--including treats--and exercise, so you can monitor your pet's progress. You might even have to get a little obsessive, measuring the exact amount of foods offered and noting every treat.
No matter what the plan, be prepared for it to take a while. Inducing weight loss at a rate faster than two percent of total body weight per week is more likely to reduce lean tissue, and trigger a rebound weight gain.
Keep in mind that you're in this for the long haul. Most dogs may take as long as eight to 12 months to reach their goal weights, and even then, they'll need to keep up the diet and exercise to maintain their new, healthier shape.