Obesity and overweight in our dogs should worry us, as it is the cause of a large number of diseases. To deal with this problem we have prepared a quick guide with methods to detect overweight and ways to fix it.
Obesity in dogs (as in humans) is the accumulation of excess fat in the body, which leads to an increase in the total body weight of the animal. The increase in a dog’s body weight and body fat tend to go hand in hand, so most dogs which are overweight or obese tend to have excess body fat.
What is considered obesity in dogs? When we talk about overweight or obesity in dogs we talk about the amount of fat, although this is not easy to measure exactly, we can make approximations. If we use the standard body weight of your dog’s breed as a guide, we can consider that the dog is overweight when they exceed 10-20% of the average body weight and obese when they exceed 20% of the recommended weight.
Obesity shortens the dog’s life and makes them more prone to develop diseases. It has even been investigated how moderate overweight can reduce the life expectancy of our dogs by almost two years compared to their thinner counterparts. So if you think your beloved canine friend has a few pounds to spare, the best thing to do is to put them on a diet.
We don’t want to go into details because obesity in dogs is a serious and really sad topic, but our duty as dog lovers is to make you aware of the risks. It has been scientifically proven that fat in dogs secretes inflammatory hormones and creates oxidative stress in body tissues, which contributes to the appearance of many diseases, increasing the appearance of many types of cancer, diabetes mellitus, heart disease and hypertension, osteoarthritis, urinary bladder stones and anesthetic complications among many other problems.
The first step to help an overweight or obese dog is to recognize and admit that both owner and dog have a problem. While we may not realize it, unfortunately, we are inundated with images of consistently overweight dogs, which makes it challenging to understand what a normal, healthy shape looks like for our beloved canine companions. In these cases, if you think your dog is overweight or even obese, the best thing to do is to go to a local veterinarian. Do you want to find one quickly? Search the Doggies in Town App to find the best veterinarians and access offers of all kinds.
If for any reason you can’t go to the vet and you want to know for sure if your dog is overweight, we give you three alternatives.
As we mentioned before, the weight of dogs should not exceed 10-20% of the average or maximum weight of their breed, as they would be at risk of being overweight or even obese. To check this, you can try sitting your dog on a human scale (if he is very large) or even on a kitchen scale (if he weighs just a few kilos). If you find that you can’t get him to do it either way, try the next method.
This test to detect overweight and obesity in dogs consists of palpating with your hand the ribs of your furry friend, it is really reliable and very simple to do.
Stand behind your dog and gently pass your hands on both sides of the rib cage. You should be able to easily feel, but not see, each rib (the sensation is similar to feeling your own knuckles with the palm of your opposite hand). Also, unless your dog is a pug or bulldog, the shape of his waist should taper just in front of the hind legs. If you can pinch more than an inch of skin in that area and / or if your dog has visibly lost his waist, it is probably time to think about putting him on a diet.
Once you have identified that your dog is indeed overweight or obese, it is important to adjust the meals specifically for weight loss, using a specific food, a specific ratio and a specific frequency of meals to be indicated by your veterinarian.
To achieve this, there are a wide variety of nutritional products scientifically formulated to help dogs lose weight safely and healthily. And under no circumstances is it advisable to simply reduce the volume of your dog’s current food intake as if it were a human, since in the long run this could cause disorders and even malnutrition over time.
Some advice we can give you is that treats should not be more than 10% of the dog’s daily calorie intake. And that it is highly recommended to weigh your dog every 2-3 weeks (or at least once a month) not only to control its possible overweight, but also to make sure it is always healthy. Since a rapid and excessive weight loss could also be detrimental to the health of our animal companion.