Is your dog overweight? Statistics banded about say that over 40% of dogs in the United States are overweight/obese, and the percentage is as bad in Europe. However, the percentage of owners who think their dog is overweight is significantly lower than 40%.
Zoe was overweight; four kilos crept on after she was spayed last year and we spent several months getting rid of them.
The combination of a reduced diet, encouraging her to be more active when we were out walking and no more pigs ears as treats eventually did the trick.
Here are two quick tests to determine whether your dog is carrying more weight than he should:
When you run your hands along your dog’s ribcage, can you feel his ribs? You should be able to count the number of ribs as you move your hands along your dog’s body – if you can’t then he’s carrying too much weight.
Running your hands along your dog’s side, does he have a ‘waist’ – by that I mean does his body tuck in in front of his hips? If there’s a straight line from his hips to his shoulders, then he’s overweight.
I found this useful flowchart for determining whether your dog is extremely thin, severely overweight or something in between. If you think that your dog is overweight then it’s worth paying a visit to your vet just to make sure there isn’t an underlying health issue that’s causing the problem.
Provided you live in the United States, you can take part in the National Canine Weight Check during February; participating vets will assess your dog’s weight for free and provide you with information and advice on the causes of canine obesity and the health problems it can lead to.
Should your dog’s weight problem be down to over feeding and not enough exercise, draw up a plan for feeding and exercising your dog and stick to it consistently until he’s lost the weight he needs to.
Like humans, it’s better if the weight comes off slowly and adopting a healthier lifestyle is likely to be more successful than putting your dog on a crash diet and/or giving him some of the new weight loss medications that are now available.
From personal experience helping your dog lose weight is hard work – particularly not giving giving into those pleading ‘can I have some more food’ eyes – but it’s worth it. Zoe’s energy levels are now back to normal, and I’m finding it much easier to lift her on and off the grooming table!