Numerous studies have shown that more Americans are obese today than ever before and, interestingly, we’re not the only ones. Not only are Americans fatter than ever, so are their dogs; and the phenomenon can have serious ramifications for both groups. Obese dogs run a lot of the same risks that obese people do.
When a dog is over weight it is at higher risk for heart disease, respiratory ailments, weak joints and other problems. In short; it is every bit as dangerous for a dog to be carrying extra weight as it is for a person – perhaps more so due to the shorter lifespan that dogs have. An overweight eight year old dog is akin to an overweight fifty-six year old man and subject to many of the same health risks.
Fortunately for us and our dogs; the equation is associative and works the same in the opposite direction. Just as a healthy diet and plenty of good cardiovascular exercise can trim down a chubby man; it can take the extra weight off of a dog.
To reduce the overweight or obese dog’s body weight, a program of diet and exercise should be introduced. It is important to visit a veterinarian as the doctor can determine whether the dog’s obesity is simply due to high caloric intake or some other medical concern like diabetes. The vet can also give you the best suggestions about diet and exercise. There are many brands of dog food on the market that are specially balanced to help a dog lose weight.
Despite what food or dietary supplements you’re using, there is no substitute for the support and commitment of the family. Each member must agree to help control the dog’s caloric intake, feeding exact amounts at exact times and limiting the intake of snacks. Feeding the dog extra treats or table scraps on the sly will not be doing the pooch any favors.
Doggie Exercise Programs
Exercise is important for any dog. A dog that doesn’t get enough exercise quickly gains weight and may become extremely keyed up or very lethargic. Fortunately, most dogs love to exercise by nature. They love to run and play with their people. The overweight dog my be reluctant to exercise at first, but if you persist in taking him for walks or to play games like “fetch” (most dogs love to run after a thrown tennis ball or other object), the pup will soon come around and start exercising more frequently and for longer periods of time.
It Takes Time
People don’t get to their ideal weight overnight when dieting and neither will a dog. Remember that Rover didn’t put on those extra pounds all at once and they won’t come off that way either. Most dogs take between ten and twelve months to reach their ideal weight goal, depending upon how much extra weight must be lost.