Obesity is a rising problem in the United States — there’s no doubt about it. But while most people are concerned with the rising weight of humans, there’s another obesity epidemic that deserves just as much attention: That of dogs.
In a 2017 survey by The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, it was found that 56 percent of dogs in the U.S. are clinically overweight or obese. This was the association’s tenth such survey measuring overweight and obesity in American dogs, and it revealed the highest numbers yet.
Is Being Overweight Really That Harmful to Dogs?
Unfortunately, yes. Like humans, dogs can be diagnosed as overweight or obese (the latter being the most severe), and both of these diagnoses are bad for canine health. Again, as in humans, health issues abound in dogs who carry around excess weight. Here are just a few of the most common complications:
- High blood pressure
- Heart complications
- Respiratory compromise (difficulty breathing)
- Lowered immune system function
- Increased risk for certain types of cancer
How Can I Help My Dog Lose Weight?
The good news is that if your dog is overweight, it’s quite simple to help them lose those extra pounds and get back to a trim size again. That’s because you, the pet owner, control what your dog eats and when, and you also control how much your dog exercises.
To start, however, you’ll need to know what your dog’s current weight is and what their target weight should be. We can help with that at Sunset Veterinary Clinic. At your dog’s appointment, we’ll first weigh your pup on our large pet scale.
One of our seasoned veterinarians will then give your dog a complete physical. Based on their breed, age, and overall size, we’ll create a healthy target weight to aim for. We’ll also provide you with guidance for a new diet. This will include recommendations for food intake, daily exercise, and other health goals.
Helping your dog lose weight is about lowering their intake of food overall (if they’ve been consuming too much), altering the types of food they’ve been consuming (no more table scraps!), and increasing their daily exercise.
Our Approach to Treatment
At Sunset Vet, when a pet comes in that is overweight, then we try to ascertain what the pet’s lifestyle is like including what they eat, how much, activity level, and any other existing medical conditions. We may want to perform lab work to rule-out another condition causing weight gain such as hypothyroidism or Cushing’s disease. But the mainstay of therapy is going to be a diet change and activity.
Many pets simply need a reduction in the amount of their current food they are getting. Other pets may need a therapeutic diet that helps promote weight loss by using high quality healthy ingredients and promoting a feeling of “fullness” so the pet doesn’t feel hungry. We can calculate the metabolic requirements for most dogs and cats and determine how many calories they actually need to lose then maintain a healthy weight.
Weigh-ins every 2-3 weeks can help us monitor the pet’s weight loss and be able to make changes to their plan if needed. We can even factor in treats, so the pet does not miss out on those. Exercise is helpful but does not have to be just taking more long walks. Any type of activity like playing with toys, tug-of-war, fetch, food puzzles, hiding treats around the house counts as exercise.
Make your appointment at Sunset Veterinary Clinic today if you have any concerns and want to help your best canine friend get healthy and back into shape!