But before coming to a conclusion you should ascertain whether your dog is Underweight or Overweight. There are certain parameters that help you to determine as talked below.
According to WSAVA (The World Small Animal Veterinary Association) between 20-40% of dogs in industrialized countries are overweight.
What Causes Obesity?
The main cause of obesity in dogs is overeating, that is, the intake of a higher amount of energy than is consumed, together with a lack of physical activity
However, there are a series of factors that can favor the appearance of it:
- Genetic factors: there are some breeds of dogs that have a greater predisposition to weight gain (Labrador, Cocker Spaniel).
- Environmental factors: those that make the animal lead a sedentary life, such as the lack of stimuli, taking short walks spaced out in time
- Psychic factors: boredom, frustration & other factors make the dog’s hobby pecking.
- Endocrine factors: diseases such as hypothyroidism, Cushing’s syndrome and the consequences of castration (less activity, more appetite …)
What consequences can obesity have on my dog?
Excess fat negatively impacts the health and longevity of the dog. Overweight dogs are at increased risk of developing:
- All types of cancers: there are fat cells that are more abundant in obese animals that promote cell proliferation, they can also have direct or indirect effects on other regulators of tumor growth.
- Diabetes mellitus: obesity contributes to insulin resistance.
- Osteoarthritis. Due to the compression that the extra kilos exert on the joints.
- Heart disease and hypertension. Weight gain makes it harder for the heart to pump blood throughout the body and therefore increases blood pressure.
- Complications in anesthesia: obese dogs are less tolerant of heat.
- Increased respiratory problems: fat accumulated in the abdomen presses on the diaphragm and reduces lung capacity.
How do I know if my dog is obese?
The first step in dealing with an overweight or obese dog is to recognize and know that the problem exists. Your vet can advise you on this.
Rib palpation is not only an important measure to help you identify if your dog is overweight, it is an easy thing to do at home yourself. If you place your left hand with the palm of your hand facing down and with the tips of your right fingers you caress your left knuckles, that is the sensation you should perceive when feeling your dog’s ribs.
Your veterinarian will make an estimate of the ideal weight to achieve but it is also important to carry out regular checks to ensure that the weight loss is taking place.
How can I help my dog lose weight?
Once you have identified your dog as obese or overweight, the next step is to adjust the meals for weight loss, using a specific nutritional product and a specific dose and frequency. Scientifically formulated nutritional products are available to help you achieve safe and healthy weight loss. It is not appropriate to simply reduce the intake of the food you are eating because this could lead to malnutrition over time.
The most appropriate and important is to use a product with a lower caloric density but that maintains an adequate balance of nutrients. These products, in addition, promote the feeling of satiety since they usually incorporate a greater amount of dietary fiber.
There is a wide range of specific weight loss diets on the market. The so-called light feeds provide 15% fewer calories compared to maintenance. But if weight loss requires greater energy reductions then we should choose prescription foods specifically formulated for the treatment of obesity and that allow a 22% reduction in caloric intake. Your vet can help you determine which product is best for your dog.
Once the new product and the amount to administer have been selected, it is very important to be persistent in terms of frequency and serving and to resist the temptation to administer inappropriate snacks. You can give carrots, apple, green beans, rice cakes …).
At this point and achieving the ideal weight, then the most difficult thing comes, which is nothing other than maintaining that weight. To do this, I advise establishing a discipline that all family members must carry out, even during vacation periods.