Just like humans, dogs can get overweight. You might think your chubby, fuzzy friend is so cute with those extra pounds, but in reality, you are really harming your dog by allowing him or her to be overweight. It can also be difficult to tell when your dog is overweight because, to us, a 12-pound terrier is light and cuddly. However, that is the equivalent of a grown woman weighing about 215 pounds. If you suspect your dog is overweight, you need to get it the help it needs to continue leading a long and healthy life. If you don't, you could be looking at dealing with some of the same diseases overweight humans experience, such as diabetes, heart disease, and bone problems.
Is My Dog Overweight?
The most important starting point is to be able to pinpoint whether or not your dog is overweight. You can always weigh your dog and ask your vet if you are worried, but the best way to tell is to look at your dog from above. Do they have a waistline? If they do, you will see a slight curve in their waist before it curves out again at their hips. If they don't, you will not see this curve. If your dog does not have a waistline, there is a good chance your furry friend needs to go on a diet. This is a great way to tell if your pet is overweight, because sometimes a number on the scale doesn't tell you everything. Just like humans, every dog's body is different, so being obsessed with a number rather than overall fitness can be harmful rather than helpful.
How did this Happen?
Chances are, your dog became overweight because you fed them too much food. Unlike humans, dogs will eat until they burst, especially if you got your dog from a shelter. When dogs don't always know where their next meal is coming from, their natural instinct is to eat everything they can find in case they cannot find food again later. In this way, they are unlike cats in that cats will monitor their intake of food and stop eating when they are no longer hungry. Dogs, however, will devour treats, scraps, and anything else they can find in addition to their daily meals. Furthermore, if you are not walking or exercising your dog, there is a good chance they will gain more weight than necessary.
What do I do?
At this point, the best thing to do is to call your veterinarian and get an appointment. Your vet always knows best when it comes to the health of your furry friend. It could be a simple matter of feeding your dog less food, but it could also be related to the type of foods your dog is eating. You also won't know if the weight gain is due to overeating or a metabolic disease until your vet does some tests. If the problem has been caused by overeating, though, your vet will probably recommend a few things. First, be sure your dog gets exercise every day. Play fetch in the yard, or take your dog for runs or long walks. All of these physical activities add up to lots of calorie burning, and they're good for you, too! Second, stop giving your dog treats and table scraps. We often don't think much of treating our dogs, but that can really be the root of the issue. If you must give your dog treats, try healthier varieties such as carrots or ice cubes. Third, be sure to measure your dog's meals accurately using a measuring cup. You'll need to know exactly what your dog is eating every day in order to make sure portions are being reduced.