Hello! Here we are, heading into the autumn, thinking about keeping warm instead of keeping cool! Today's topic is about weight. Not yours, but your pup's. Have you ever wondered if your pet's weight was okay? It's a subject that not a lot of people think about on a daily basis, but something that can seriously affect your dog's health.
According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, a study in 2016 found that 53.9% of all of the dogs in the USA are classified as clinically overweight or obese by their veterinarian. That's nearly 42 million dogs! For a culture that spends billions on health and fitness, we're overlooking the fitness level of our furry family members.
Considering the fact that humans have almost total control of what their dogs eat, we have to be more cognizant of what they're eating and how much. Obesity in dogs brings about most of the same health issues that we can have if we're overweight: knee pain, torn ACLs, diabetes, arthritis, heart problems, or fatty liver syndrome are a short list of the illnesses that our dogs are susceptible to if they're too heavy.
"Well, Noomi," you might ask, "how do I make sure my dog doesn't become overweight or how can I help my dog lose weight?" The first thing I'd suggest is talk to your vet. Here's a chart I've been using for a long time, both in and out of the vet hospitals, to help myself and others gauge the weight on their dogs.
|courtesy of www.preventpetobesity.org|
As for prevention of dog obesity, it's a mixture of two things, food and exercise. Most commercial dog foods contain a lot of "junk" in them, that makes your dog both want to eat more, and don't provide any real nutrition. Do some research PLEASE and find out what might in your dog's food that isn't good for them. My own dog was allergic to corn and wheat, and I learned a lot about food that I didn't know AT ALL while finding the right diet for him. As with anything, if you wouldn't eat it, why would you let your furry family member eat it? I used a food that listed ingredients I could understand, things I know my dog would eat and were good for him.
Also, don't blindly read the label on your dog's food and feed him what that says. In many instances, the manufacturer will overestimate the food to feed, because, hey, it means you'll buy more and they'll make more money! Talk to your vet about how much you should *really* be feeding.
Exercise is another huge factor. If your pup is lazy and doesn't want to play, they are of course at risk for obesity. Small dogs tend to burn more calories more easily because they have little bodies. Larger dogs may need more exercise. Walk your dog, watch when they get tired, play with them, offer them space to be silly and jump around, with or without toys. My dog loved to play fetch, but never really enjoyed the "bring back the toy" part.....so we had to get creative and form new games with him so he'd be active.
If you're wondering what other things you can feed your dog when you throw out all of the junk food, there are a LOT of human foods that are just as nutritious for them as they are for you. Baby carrots, or small slices of carrot are a great treat, and help keep their teeth clean! Also, broccoli, celery, and asparagus are great veggies. My dog loved string beans, either raw or cooked. Fruit such as apples are good, as long as they're not eating the pits (there is a trace amount of arsenic in apple pits so keep them out of pup's mouth). My little guy looked at me like I was crazy when I tried to give him celery, but loved most other vegetables. Just use what works, as long as it's safe.
Remember, you have the control to help them stay lean and healthy, and it'll definitely work out well for BOTH of you!