We know that everyone loves to occasionally spoil their dog with some tasty treats, but if you think that your dog is getting a bit on the portly side, then here are a few easy checks that you can do yourself.
A healthy and happy Golden Retriever splashing around in the water
Obesity can lead to all sorts of health problems, most commonly back problems. Other weight induced problems include diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, difficulty breathing, increased risk of cancer and a dramatically decreased quality of life.
How To Tell If Your Dog Is Too Fat Or Too Thin
- Check your dog’s ribs. You should be able to feel them fairly easily, but you should not be able to see them very clearly from a distance. There should only be a very thin layer of fat covering them.
- Inspect your dog from above. His waist should be clearly visible, but you should not be able to see any protruding bones.
- Look at your dog from the side. His abdomen should be tucked up, and there shouldn’t be any excess fat hanging down.
A healthy Flat Coated Retriever with a clear abdominal tuck
An obvious sign of an overweight dog is an excess of fat covering the dog’s ribs or tail bones. This will be visibly apparent, but you can also check this very simply by examining your dog’s body with your hands. Something to note is that bitches are more susceptible to obesity than males, but in general you should always keep an eye on your dog’s health.
Breeds that are most likely to become overweight include the Basset Hound, the Beagle, the Boxer, the Bulldog, the Dachshund, the Golden Retriever, the Labrador Retriever, the Newfoundland, the Pug and the Rottweiler. Pay close attention to the food intake and the weight of these breeds in particular to avoid obesity.
Note: Closely monitor the weight and food intake of a dog that has just been neutered, as they can be at high risk of becoming overweight.
How To Reduce Your Dog’s Weight
We love our dogs no matter how they look, but if your dog is getting more barrel like by the day then now is the time to start doggy slimming. On a serious note, if your dog is overweight it is actually quite important for his health that you make a few changes to his lifestyle. Read on to find out how.
A healthy and happy Afghan Hound lying down on the grass
Giving Your Dog Less Food
This might sound very obvious, but it's usually the best place to start. Begin by reducing the amount of food you are giving your dog by only a small amount. Don’t reduce your dog’s meal sizes dramatically, but make sure that he is eating less. You don’t want to upset your dog by halving his food intake, this is not the correct way to make your dog lose weight. The most effective method is to get him more active.
Ensure that he is not being given any scraps at the table, and make sure that he is not stealing food when he is unsupervised. Make sure that all of your family know that you are trying to reduce your dog’s weight, otherwise you might be confused when your dog doesn't actually make any progress.
A Dalmatian running around getting some exercise
Giving Your Dog More Exercise
The next step is to take your dog for more frequent and interesting walks. If you are able to walk your dog off the lead in a safe place then he will get more exercise. Call him back every so often and given him a healthy snack as a reward so that he covers more distance. Your vet will be able to suggest some very tasty, yet healthy reward treats. Professional training is always available if you struggle to recall your dog off the lead. If you are not able to let your dog off the lead, ensure that your walks are significantly longer so that he gets enough exercise. Your vet will be able to tell you how much exercise your dog should be getting. It will vary dramatically depending on your dog’s size and ability.
A Labrador shaking itself off after having a swim
Swimming is also a very effective method of helping your dog to lose weight. It is said that a five minute swim can be the equivalent of a five mile walk on a lead. It also helps to increase your dog’s strength, as well as lowering his body fat and increasing the flexibility in his joints.