Obesity in Dogs

Obesity in dogs is becoming a common problem and as is the case with humans, it eventually leads to other complications. Obesity is common to all dogs of either sex but the prevalence of the condition is more in the age group of five to ten years. As is the case with humans, dogs tend to put on weight due to two reasons – an improper diet and the lack of sufficient exercise. Some other causes for obesity in dogs are hypothyroidism, insulinoma and hyperadrenocorticism. Dogs that are confined to the indoors and those who have been neutered are particularly prone to put on those extra pounds. Obesity is identified to be one of the causes of reducing the lifespan of a dog. Some breeds are particularly prone to obesity and examples are English Bulldogs, Beagles, Dachshunds, Pugs, Dalmatians and Cocker Spaniels.

So how do you realize whether your dog is obese? A simple and easy way to judge whether your dog is obese is to run your palms along the dog’s ribcage. If you are unable to feel the ribs, it is a sign that obesity is setting in. Similarly, the inability to see the upward tuck of the abdomen when you look at the dog from the side also indicates an overweight dog. When you look at the dog from the top, you should be able to make out the narrowing at the waist. An inability to do so again indicates obesity in the dog.

A trip to the vet is called for at regular intervals. Every breed has a particular standard and the vet would compare the weight of your dog with this standard. An excess body weight of 10 – 15 percent when compared to the breed standard would make your dog obese. A responsible pet-owner should regularly (twice a week) check the weight of the dog and ensure that the weight does not exceed the standards defined by the vet.

The treatment regimen would be a long-term affair and follows a pattern similar to treating obesity in humans. To lose weight and then maintain the decreased body weight would be the desired end result. This would be achieved by reducing the food intake and increasing the expenditure of calories. To this end, your vet would prepare a diet plan and this would include diets that are protein rich but low in fat. Diet rich in fiber is also recommended as they contain little energy but stimulate the intestinal metabolism. Treats are strictly forbidden. Exercise is a good way to make sure that your dog is burning up those extra calories. Playing games such as fetch and walking at least two kilometres a day should set your dog on the way to lose weight. Regularly continuing with these activities also ensures that the dog does not put on weight in future.

A healthy dog is a joyful companion and as pet-owners, it is our responsibility to make sure that the dog is fed a proper diet and exercised properly.

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