Maintaining a healthy weight for your dog is important to ensure that they have the best quality of life with you. Over time dogs are susceptible to gain weight and become heavier than their ideal body weight. Our canines are dependent on us for their meals, so it’s important for us to be mindful of the amount and quality of the foods we’re feeding. With the perfect balance of a good diet and exercise your pup can live a healthy, happy and long life.
To keep your dog in the road to success, here are some warning signs for tips to maintain a healthy lifestyle for your dog.
Is your dog overweight?
Is your pooch looking a little pudgier lately? Believe it or not, it’s a lot more common than you’d think. The battle of the bulge isn’t just something people face — so do our pets. Approximately 25-30% of the general canine population is obese, with 40-45% of dogs aged 5-11 years old weighing in higher than normal.
If you aren't sure whether a trip to the veterinarian is called for, here are some at-home checks you can do with your dogs to see if they might be overweight.
What are the signs of weight gain?
Wondering how to tell if your dog has gained a few too many extra pounds and needs to shed some weight? Here are some signs you can look for to determine whether your dog is overweight and how you can get them into shape to stay healthy and happy.
Monitor energy and endurance
More often than not, your dog will have reduced levels of energy and fitness if they’re carrying a few extra pounds. Panting when walking or walking slower than they should be based on their age and size, and if they tend to be snoozing more than usual are good indicators they may need to slim down.
Look at their waist and Tummy
If your dog is overweight, they will generally have no waistline and no distinction between their chest and stomach when viewed above. They will likely appear rounder from the side, and have a bit of a potbelly.
Feel their ribs
You should be able to feel your pup's ribs without a thick layer of fat obscuring them. If they aren’t prominent and you can easily feel them without having to press hard, your dog is fit. For overweight dogs, it’s difficult to feel the ribs because there is too much cushion in the way.
Weigh your pooch
The most obvious way to see if your dog is overweight is by weighing them. Your veterinarian will have the proper scale and can access based on their size and breed. They will use a body score chart which ranks a dog's body type by shape.
What causes weight gain?
Like us humans, dogs can gain weight for several reasons, including poor diet or the wrong type of food, lack of exercise, changes in metabolism, and certain types of illness. Although certain breeds are somewhat predisposed to weight gain, any dog can become obese. On the other hand, if your pooch is gaining weight, for unknown and unexplained reasons that are causing you to become worried and anxious it’s always a safe bet to get them checked out by your local veterinarian clinic.
What health issues come from this extra weight?
A few extra pounds here or there on your dog's waistline isn’t going to be a big deal. But a little too much can come at a shocking cost that will negatively impact your best friend's health and life quality. As with any sort of weight gain, this will add more pressure on organs and overall put stress on their body.
Dogs that are overweight are at higher risk of potentially serious health conditions including:
- Arthritis and joint injuries
- Breathing difficulties & respiratory disease
- Different types of cancer
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Shorter lifespan
What can you do to help your dog maintain a healthy weight?
Managing weight is one of the most important things you can do for your dog’s health. When it comes to preventing obesity or even the slow incline of excess pounds, simply being aware and diligent of your dog’s weight is the first step.
1. The Body Score Chart for Dogs
Use the Body Score Chart for Dogs to see if your dog is undernourished, at an ideal weight, or overweight. This is what vets consider the best way to evaluate a dog’s weight.
Your dog’s weight may fall into one of five categories:
- Too thin
- Optimum - Perfect
2. Keep them active
Keeping your dog active is just as important as a nutritional diet. The most obvious, and easy activity to get your dog active is walking. Regular walks don’t just exercise your dog’s body, they provide crucial mental stimulation and improve muscle tone, increases metabolism and helps to reduce boredom in your dog. Beyond walks, do some other fun activities that you both can enjoy (indoor or outdoor). Go play fetch with one of their favorite balls, hit up the local dog park, or simply enjoy some time in your own backyard.
3. Feeding a healthy diet
You are what you eat isn't just a saying that applies to people. It goes for our pooches, too. Diet is a major factor in weight management for dogs. Plus providing them a high-quality diet is key to helping them live a longer and healthier life. Try feeding them GO! SOLUTIONS WEIGHT MANAGEMENT + JOINT CARE Grain Free Chicken Recipe. This formula contains L-Carnitine which aids in burning fat into energy, providing a path to help keep them fit for their lifetime. The fiber-rich psyllium husk helps keep dogs feeling full and has upwards of 38% less fat than other GO! SOLUTIONS recipes for dogs.
Controlled fat solutions to support a healthy weight
Maintaining your dog's mobility + healthy weight is one of the best ways to prevent health issues. GO! SOLUTIONS WEIGHT MANAGEMENT + JOINT CARE’s blend of lean protein, healthy fats, and functional ingredients can help your dog stay in shape for life.
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4. Portion Control: How much should I feed my dog?
Portion control is critical to ensuring you are preventing unnecessary weight gain for your dog. The amount of food they need will vary depending on breed, activity level, age and climate. Use the feeding chart on the back of your dog's food bag as a guide, then adjusting the quantity fed to achieve their ideal weight. For accuracy, we recommend weighing your dog’s food using a kitchen scale. 1 cup = 250 ml dry measuring cup.
Also setting times during the day for feeding will provide a routine and structure for your dog to become accustomed to. Don’t leave food out all day for them to graze, feed them small portions at set times. This also prevents them from eating too quickly, which can aid digestion.
Pro Tip: Weight is a more precise way to measure food portions than volume. Always use a kitchen scale to portion out your dog’s food by weight to avoid over or underfeeding.
Now is the time to take control of your dog’s weight! Helping them maintain a healthy weight will take work from both you and your canine but feeding them the best food and keeping them active will be a winning combination. Pet obesity can lead to several health issues and problems, but by following these simple tips it will ensure your dog lives a happy and healthy life.