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Most dogs are fed free choice, which means food is available to them 24/7. Such a feeding pattern is unnatural for any mammal. Like their owners, dogs may eat out of boredom and not only hunger. Behavior like this can contribute to unnatural hormone changes making weight loss difficult.
Overweight pups are at a risk of developing Diabetes, Cardiovascular diseases, Arthritis, Lung disorder, High Blood Pressure, Immune Dysfunction, and Cancerous tumors.
Dogs that maintain ideal body weight have been proven to live 2 years longer than their obese counterparts.
Find Out if Your Dog is Overweight
Before imposing a weight loss routine on your pooch, it is important to detect if he/she is overweight. This can be done at home by feeling the sides of the pet’s abdomen. If the ribs can be felt but not seen, your pup’s weight should not be a problem. However, if the pet doesn’t display a distinct tummy tuck and shows rolls of fat on the lower back above the tail, it is a sign for caution. Your puppy might be overweight.
Signs that indicate excess weight in a dog are – heavy breathing, lack of endurance, lethargy, eating too much, trouble getting up or walking up the stairs. Hypothyroidism & Cunning’s Syndrome can also cause weight gain in dogs. A veterinary visit is recommended just in case. The normal weight range for grown dogs is as follows –
Small breeds – Upto 20 pounds
Medium breeds – Under 80 pounds
Large breeds – Upto 200 pounds
Gathering a little information on your dog’s lineage may also come in handy, if purebred. A male dog should grow to its father’s weight on maturity. Alternatively, a female dog will grow to its mother’s weight.
Overweight dogs are usually indicative of their sedentary lifestyle.
Only 17% out of the 50% of overweight dog owners admit there is a weight issue with their dog.
Aid Your Dog’s Weight Loss
Your dog’s weight can be controlled if the following is put into practice –
- Count your dog’s daily calorie intake. A dog’s age and activity level determine how many calories they require.
- Measure your dog’s food instead of guessing the amount to be given. Use an 8 ounce cup instead of a bowl/coffee mug.
- Feed 2-4 small portions per day. It will increase their metabolic rate & burn more calories faster.
- Be wary of canine weight loss food marketed as “diet”, “lite” or “reduced calorie”. These only satiate your pet temporarily, leaving him continually hungry.
- Get your pet to exercise at least 30 minutes a day – walk, run, swim, play Fetch or climb stairs. Keep his food out of reach forcing him to move around.
- Feed him no-sugar low-calorie treats.