Thursday, July 22, 2010

Things You Can Do When Your Dog is Overweight

Canines love food. Most will continue eating as long as something tasty is placed in front of them. Unfortunately, unless your pooch has an incredibly fast metabolism, or is highly active, catering to his voracious appetite will lead to obesity. In this way, pets are similar to their owners. Excess consumption of calories combined with a lack of physical activity translates into weight gain. It also opens the door to a host of potential health problems.

In this article, we'll take a closer look at canine obesity. You'll learn how to determine whether your pet suffers from a weight problem, and when to take corrective action. We'll also cover some of the health issues caused by obesity. Lastly, we'll provide a few tips for creating a diet that will help your dog lose the extra pounds.

How To Identify A Weight Problem

If your pet is obese, the problem will be obvious. The outline of his body when viewed from above will lack the characteristic inward slope toward his haunches that indicates a healthy canine. You will also be unable to feel his ribs without pressing down on his skin. Veterinarians will feel a pet's shoulders and hips to determine how much fat covers them. They'll also inspect your dog's body from the side to check whether his abdomen curves upward behind his chest.

Based on these findings, a veterinarian will assign a weight score to your pet. The score ranges from one to nine; one means your canine is severely underweight and nine means an obesity problem. If your pet is obese, ask your veterinarian to determine whether there are existing health concerns.

Canine Health Problems Caused By Obesity

Being overweight means vital organs and joints are forced to work harder to perform their respective jobs. Over time, a slow process of decline occurs. Your dog's joints and bones will likely suffer damage. This allows arthritis to develop, which will become progressively worse unless your canine's weight problem is resolved. The ligaments, too, will become strained; in some cases, they can tear.

Increased blood pressure is another issue caused by obesity. Your pet's heart will begin to work harder to circulate blood to his growing body, even as his extra weight is placing more pressure on it. His lung capacity will also suffer since there is less room for his lungs to expand. This in turn leads to reduced stamina and breathing problems.

Eventually, excess weight will cause issues with your dog's digestive, reproductive, and immune systems. His quality of life will decline. For these reasons, it is important to create a healthy diet for your canine to help him lose weight. Doing so will preserve his long-term health.

Creating A Healthy Diet For Your Dog

First, avoid the temptation to place your dog on a crash diet. Instead, establish a goal for him to lose between one and two pounds each week. This is a healthy weight reduction plan.

Second, resist the urge to cater to your canine's pleas for more food. If you're cutting back his caloric consumption gradually, he will not starve. Remember that giving in to him risks his long-term health.

Third, increase your pet's exercise. Both people and dogs gain weight because their caloric intake is higher than their caloric burn. By decreasing your canine's calorie consumption while simultaneously increasing his physical activity, he'll lose weight more quickly without impairing his health.

Fourth, avoid giving your pet treats from the table. Instead, provide dog treats that offer the nutrition he needs without the unnecessary fat and extra calories.

Millions of dogs are overweight because their owners provide them with too much food without sufficient exercise. If you notice your canine is carrying a few extra pounds, work with your veterinarian to design a healthy diet and exercise plan to help him trim down.

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