This is the time of year when we all begin to look in the mirror and wonder if we’ve gained a little weight.
It’s easy enough for both us and our canine companions to do. In fact, obesity is one of the fastest growing problems in dogs. It is estimated that 53% of US dogs are obese. Obese dogs are at higher risk for diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, a compromised immune system, and even some cancers. This month’s tip addresses how to tell if your dog is overweight or obese.
How do you know if your dog is overweight? First, can you feel your dog’s ribs? Each rib should be covered with a thin layer of skin and muscle. When you run your hands along your dog’s sides, you should be able to just feel the ribs. If you can’t feel the ribs, your dog is probably overweight. Second, stand over your dog and look down at his back. Looking toward the tail, you should see an hourglass shaped ‘waist’ Just past the ribs. If there is no waist, your dog is probably overweight. Third, look at your dog from the side. If you don’t see a slight tuck up profile, but he instead looks more sausage-like, he is probably overweight.
Is your dog obese?
There are several things you can do if you find that your dog is overweight or obese. First, reassess the amount of food you are feeding, including treats, and cut back a bit. Do not put down food and let your dog munch all day – instead measure out his food and feed only at meal time. Follow dog food label feeding amounts cautiously as they often recommend more food than needed. Remember, no crash diets please – changes should be made slowly! Secondly, slowly and cautiously increase your dog’s exercise. You may also want to visit your veterinarian to make sure there is no medical reason for the weight gain, such as hypothyroidism, diabetes, or Cushing disease.