Obesity and Your Dog

Obesity is on the rise in dogs. 40% of dogs are obese and that number is slowly climbing. Obesity is a very serious condition and is defined as weight more than 20% of the ideal body weight. Dogs usually become obese from a more sedentary lifestyle and receiving more calories than needed. There are a few diseases that can cause obesity in dogs, hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease are two of those, so testing before going on an weight loss program is recommended. 

Obesity can lead to a wide variety of problems including:
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Increased cancer occurrence
  • Reduced liver function
  • High blood pressure
  • Skin problems
  • Arthritis
  • Higher incident of torn knee ligaments
       People think that spaying and neutering play a role in gaining weight. In a way it is true due to the lower release of hormone, but at the same time no, the more you feed your pet and less exercise, just like people, will gain weight. The biggest factor of weight gain is people food and treats. Your dog may be getting the proper amount of food but give them milk bones or people food three times a day or more, they will begin to get overweight.
       There are some great prescription foods to help your dog lose weight. Be very cautious of “Lite”, “light” or “low calorie” commercial foods as this can just be a marketing advertisement and they can actually be a higher fat content.
       With your pet we can design the appropriate weight loss program with the correct amount to feed. The feedings should be in at least three meals a day, but if that is unfeasible than twice a day is all right. Your dog should have fresh water available to them throughout the day as normal. While on the weight loss program, treats and table scraps are a big no no. If you need to give treats there are low calorie treat or carrots are a good low calorie snack that most dogs love. All dogs should be walked for at least fifteen to thirty-minutes everyday if possible twice a day. Playing fetch in a large area is also a good example of exercise.
       While one the weight loss program your pet needs to come in every one to three weeks (depending on the animals) to come in for to be weighed. The animal should be weighed at the same time each weigh in for consistency. We can make a weight chart to see your animal’s progress. A 15-20% reduction in body weight is a good starting point, dogs are a bit easier than cats to calculate an ideal body weight.

       Once your animal has reached its weight loss goal, you can then go from a reducing diet to a maintenance diet so your animal does not lose too much weight. Once the ideal weight is reached, at least for the first year afterwards regularly weigh ins are necessary to ensure your pet is not re-gaining weight.