Obesity is on the rise for canines. The
reasons for this influx are similar to those that humans
experience, too much food and too little exercise. The
results of obesity are similar for your canine friends
too. Studies reveal that 25% of overweight dogs experience
severe joint problems. This effects there daily activities
such as walking, standing and sitting. It also increases
pain and makes jumping up or down off the bed difficult.
If a dog is overweight its lungs cannot function properly-
the extra fat pushes against the lungs and diaphragm and
makes breathing more difficult. Carrying extra weight
decrease ability to preform daily activities. It takes
more work to do everything. Body systems have to do more
than they were designed for because extra weight places
strain on the heart, muscles and respiratory system. Because
being overweight causes daily tasks to be more difficult
and causes more pain, dogs can become more irritable.
Dogs who are overweight have a shorter life span and a
lower quality of life. However, there are several things
that a pet owner can do to help their animals shed the
pounds and live a longer, happier life.
Assessing Your Dog
One way to get an idea if your dog is overweight
is by checking their ribs. The ribs should not be visible
as they stand, but still detectable when you touch them
or when they move (such as jumping in the air to catch
a Frisbee). If you cannot feel your dogs ribs, they are
probably overweight. The first and for most important
measure though, is to take your dog to their veterinarian.
Your dog should be seen on a yearly basis for a routine
check up. One reason why visiting your veterinarian is
so important is that some dogs do not look overweight.
Large dogs can especially hide weight well. Your veterinarian
will be able to decide if your dog is overweight and why.
To help your veterinarian keep a record of what you are
doing with your dog before you go. Record your dogs patterns
such as sleeping, eating and exercise. In some cases weight
issues might be due to medical conditions, such a thyroid
problems, verses overeating and under exercising.
Dog's have a strong need for affection.
One reason dogs overeat is that pet owners use food as
an easy way to show their affection. It is not recommended
to do this. Using food as a means of reward trains your
dog to seek food for affection. This adds to their weight
gain and all the other associated problems. Instead, fill
their need for attention with games, petting and playing
or get a new toy or go for a walk. Habits are hard to
break, so here are few tips to help you. Do not leave
food out all day. Set a schedule and a location to eat.
One meal per day (or two small ones) is all that a dog
needs. Also, one day each week with no food will help
burn excess fat which they have stored in their bodies.
Dogs are trained in behavior. If they beg at the table
and someone gives them food, they learn that begging results
in getting what they want. To help change this pattern
feed your dog before you eat and keep them in another
room while you have dinner. After, take them out for a
walk or to play a game so they feel loved and get the
attention they need. Once new patterns have been decided
upon make sure everyone in the family is on board. Otherwise
someone might feel "sorry" for the begging dog and give
them "just a little something" and this will slow down
or prevent your dog's weight loss, especially if that
"little something" is every day. Meet as a family to discuss
the need for changes in your dog's diet and how your animal
will be effected if you don't. This will help everyone
understand why and help them keep the new rules.
The enthusiasm for new changes might cause
over doing exercise at first, but it is important not
to do this. Start slowly, for just a few minutes a couple
times a day. This will be sufficient at first and then
you can slowly increase their activity. Encourage your
dog to move around the house with you. Movement frequently
and throughout the day is essential. If you take your
dog out for a hard run to get him "in shape" it might
do more harm than good. Especially when no exercise has
been implemented in his routine before. A nice, leisurely
walk is sufficient each day and then a couple of times
a day as directed by your veterinarian. Another way to
get movement is by playing games with your dog. As your
dog increases in strength and endurance playing fetch
is fun for the dog and helps them get in more activity.
Follow your veterinarian's plan and keep appointments.
This is especially important if the weight loss is significant.
Loving your pet is doing what is best for
them. Increasing their activity and reducing their treats
and table scraps will help them become their ideal weight.
Your dog will move easier and breath lighter and you can
sleep better knowing their health is on the right track.
About the Author
Emma Snow an animal lover works in marketing for Dog Pound
and Horse Stall http://www.horse-stall.net
leading portals for pet management.