Obesity rates are rising among dogs and this is a serious risk to the health of our canine friends. If your pup appears to be extra cuddly they could be carrying too much weight. Here, our Sacramento vets discuss the ways you can determine if your dog may be overweight, and how you can help them.
Is My Dog Overweight?
If you believe your pooch might be overweight you need to bring them to the vet for a wellness exam. Your veterinarian will determine your dog's weight, conduct a comprehensive examination to evaluate the overall health of your pup, then tell you if your dog is overweight depending on its build and breed.
Excess weight on a dog can contribute to many painful and serious conditions. This is why it's critical to help your pup maintain a healthy weight during its lifetime.
If you don't know if a visit to the vet is necessary, we have listed several signs that can help you determine if your dog is carrying extra weight or not.
Examine the Fitness Level of Your Dog
- Overweight dogs often pant even when they are walking fairly slowly, and might need to walk slower or take naps more often than before.
Feel For Your Pup's Ribs
- If your pup is at a healthy weight you should be able to feel their ribs without a thick layer of fat over them. Your dog's chest should be wider than their abdomen, and there will be a noticeable tuck-up from chest to stomach about where their waist should be (see illustration below).
Check Your Dog's Figure
- Overweight dogs generally have no visible waistline and no distinction between their chest and stomach when viewed from the side. See the following illustration to obtain a better understanding of how your pooch should look from the side.
How to Help Your Dog Lose Weight
Your dog's weight gain could be a symptom of a serious underlying condition, so if you believe your pup is overweight you need to bring them to the vet. If your vet determines that your dog is overweight and an underlying illness isn't causing their weight gain, your vet will recommend a diet and exercise plan to help get your pooch back down to a healthy weight.
Below are several things your vet might suggest to help your canine companion shed those extra pounds.
- Maintain a regular exercise schedule for your dog, including going for walks twice a day and playtime outside once a day. Playing fetch or frisbee can help you and your dog form a closer bond as well as give your pup a fun way to burn some extra calories.
Diet & Feeding
- Your vet will be able to calculate just the right number of calories to feed your dog at each meal and prescribe a low-calorie diet food to help your pup reach a healthier weight. Be sure 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).
Annual (or Twice-Annual) Checkups
- Even when you are certain that there is nothing wrong with your dog, it's still important to bring your dog to the vet for routine wellness exams (physical checkups for your dog). Yearly or twice-annual wellness exams provide your vet with the chance to monitor your dog's weight and detect any signs of illness early so conditions can be treated before they get more serious.
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 can be made if needed.
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.