America’s obesity rate seems to increase with each passing year. However, humans aren’t the only ones experiencing a surge in obesity. Dogs are also becoming overweight at an alarming rate, causing several health problems that can significantly diminish their life expectancies.
Unfortunately, many pet owners don’t know how to tell if their dog is overweight or how to curb the issue. That’s why Penny Paws put together some common signs of an obese dog and how to reduce their body fat and improve their overall health.
Penny Paws is one of DFW’s most trusted animal clinics. If your pet needs professional medical care in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area, contact Penny Paws.
The Risks If Your Dog Is Overweight
Although many pet parents enjoy having a plump pooch, carrying extra weight can adversely affect the dog’s mobility, joints, and overall health. The American Kennel Club states that around 56% of U.S. dogs are obese or overweight, with the percentage rising nearly every year. Obesity can cause several health issues and lead to serious ailments and diseases.
Below are just some health problems associated with dog obesity:
- High blood pressure
- Cardiovascular disease
- Reduced heat tolerance
- A compromised respiratory system
- Adverse insulin response
- Enhanced anesthetic risk
- Kidney disease
- Reduced quality of life
Although an extra pound or two won’t cause serious health issues, dogs 15 pounds or more overweight are prone to these conditions and often pass away prematurely. If you believe your dog is overweight, you must take swift action before it spirals out of control.
It’s best to address weight problems early to prevent health issues and make weight loss easier for both you and your dog.
Common Causes of Dog Obesity
Overfeeding your dog isn’t the only thing that causes excessive weight gain. Several other factors can affect your furry companion’s weight as well.
Lack of exercise is a leading factor in dog obesity. Many pet parents don’t take their dogs on walks or play fetch with them enough to work off excess calories.
Giving your dog too many treats and table scraps can also increase their body weight. Most treats are high in calories and can dramatically accelerate weight gain. It’s best to limit your dog’s treat intake and only offer them when they accomplish something worthy of praise.
Several medical conditions can increase a dog’s weight while leaving them susceptible to medical issues. Hypothyroidism and hyperadrenocorticism (also called Cushing’s disease) are the most common, but other conditions can accelerate weight gain as well. These conditions often constitute medical advice, so talk to your veterinarian if you believe your dog suffers from one or more of these ailments.
It’s important to note that some dog breeds are more prone to obesity than others. These breeds include:
- Cocker spaniels
- Labrador retrievers
- Golden retrievers
Four Signs That Your Dog Is Overweight
Figuring out if your dog is overweight isn’t always easy, especially if you don’t know the early signs of obesity. However, once you know what to look for, you can alter your dog’s eating habits and lifestyle to improve their health and overall quality of life. Below are some common signs of an overweight or obese dog.
1. You Don’t Feel the Dog’s Ribs When Petting
Healthy dogs have prominent ribs their owners can feel when they pet their sides. Fat often accumulates around a dog’s ribcage and will make them less noticeable. If you can’t feel your dog’s ribs, they’re likely overweight or obese.
2. The Dog Has an Oversized Waistline
Sometimes, you can tell if your dog is overweight by inspecting their waistline. Healthy dogs have a noticeable distinction between their chest and stomach. If you can’t tell where your dog’s chest begins and their stomach ends, ask your vet for a healthy diet plan.
Once your dog loses weight, you’ll notice a sharp contrast between their stomach and chest.
3. Low Energy Levels and Endurance
Most overweight dogs lack energy and endurance and can’t move around as efficiently as healthier canines. They typically sleep more often, walk slower, and experience excessive panting, especially after physical activities. Although old age can cause some of these symptoms, they are more prevalent in obese and overweight dogs.
4. The Dog Has Fat Pads or Sacks Along Their Hips and/or Between Their Legs
Overweight dogs often develop fat sacks or pads over their hips or between their legs that cause waddling when they walk. Inspecting your dog’s hips and underbelly will help you identify fat sacks and determine if they have a weight problem.
Treatments If Your Dog Is Overweight Or Obese
Treating your dog’s weight takes time and dedication. It requires several lifestyle changes and might take some time to get used to. However, it’s essential to address your furry companion’s weight problem before it jeopardizes their health and well-being.
Below are some healthy and efficient ways to reduce your dog’s weight:
- Ask your vet for dietary advice and ensure your dog eats healthy foods
- Give your dogs 15 to 30 minutes of exercise per day (such as going for a walk, playing fetch, or swimming)
- Replace dog treats with baby carrots, green beans, and other healthy, dog-safe foods
- Avoid giving your dog table scraps
- Treat your dog’s hypothyroidism and hyperadrenocorticism
If your dog is overweight and you need help reducing their body fat, contact Penny Paws. We will develop a custom dietary and exercise plan specifically designed for their needs.
Contact Penny Paws for Top-Quality Veterinary Services in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex
Penny Paws is Dallas-Fort Worth’s premier destination for veterinary care and associated services. Our vets will tell you if your dog is overweight and help you curb the issue to ensure they live a happy and healthy life. We treat dogs of all shapes, sizes, and breeds, making us your go-to choice for all your veterinary needs.