Obesity in dogs reflects the same problem the majority of people in the U.S. are battling. Obesity affects joint problems like arthritis, increases the risk of diabetes development, can compromise respiration (pickwickian syndrome), and, sadly, reduces both the quality and quantity of your dog’s life.
Unfortunately, many people feel that overfeeding their dog is an act of affection. The common misconception that the way to a dog’s heart is through their stomach is actually a very dangerous one. Those with busy lives may overfeed in an effort to compensate for their absence from the home. Others will feed their dog a healthy amount of food followed by many rich treats. A treat is defined as “an event or item that is out of the ordinary and gives great pleasure”. If a treat is given several times a day or even once a day, it is no longer a treat, but part of the dog’s daily diet, thereby contributing to obesity.
So what can be done about this vexing problem? First, stop feeding treats. Instead, set aside a small portion of your dog’s daily food allotment and give one or two kibbles as a “treat”. Next, measure (with a measuring cup) how much you are actually feeding your dog. You may be surprised to find that the coffee mug or scoop you are using to measure food dishes out far more than an actual measured cup. Compare this amount to the guidelines on the dog food bag. Talk with your veterinarian about your dog’s ideal healthy weight, then find that weight on the bag and feed the low end of that amount daily.
You must commit to regular weigh-ins at your veterinary clinic. If your dog has not started losing weight within two months, discuss other options with your veterinarian. If your dog is substantially overweight (>10 % over idea body weight), a prescription diet may be necessary. Talk with your veterinarian about the variety of weight loss diets available for your dog. Many people want to try over-the-counter weight control diets, which typically work well to shed a small amount of weight or maintain the status quo after losing weight. However, they are not efficient if your dog needs to lose more than 10% of his or her body weight. In these cases, a prescription weight-loss diet is recommended. These specialized dog foodscan be purchased at our clinic in the Golden Gate area of Naples, or shipped to your home in Estero or Bonita Springs through our website at www.mynaplesvet.com or our online pharmacy at https://mynaplesvet.vetsfirstchoice.com.
Many people will increase their dog’s exercise level to achieve weight loss. Exercise is certainly important, but any exercise program should be initiated slowly and during cool times of the day. Overweight dogs are more prone to heat stress and heat stroke, which can be life-threatening. Indoor games can provide another way to get your dog moving around and interacting with you if the weather is not cooperating. As your dog loses the weight and gradually improves their muscle strength, you may be surprised to find a much younger acting dog hiding under all those extra pounds!