According to petobesityprevention.org, their latest surveys reveal that an estimated 60% of cats and 56% of dogs in the United States are overweight or have obesity. Here is a link to the raw survey data on dog obesity.
It may be tempting to doubt the data but considering that 1,156 pet owners participated in it, it’s likely to be pretty accurate. The data on dog obesity is especially concerning because it means that more than half of all American dogs are at risk for serious health problems like diabetes, joint problems, and even cancer.
What is the dog obesity crisis?
In simple terms, dog obesity is when a dog is carrying around more weight than is healthy for its breed and age. Dog obesity can be caused by a variety of factors, including overfeeding, lack of exercise, and certain health conditions.
It is considered a crisis because it is so widespread and because it can have such serious consequences for a dog’s health.
How can I tell if my dog is obese?
One way to tell if your dog is obese is to look at its body from above. If you can’t see your dog’s waist, it is likely overweight. You should also be able to feel your dog’s ribs without having to press too hard. If you can’t, your dog is likely obese.
Another way to tell if your dog is obese is to look at its body from the side. If you can see a noticeable “sag” in its belly, it is likely obese.
What are the health risks of dog obesity?
Dog obesity can lead to a variety of health problems, including:
Diabetes: Obesity makes it harder for a dog’s body to process insulin, which can lead to diabetes.
Joint problems: Extra weight puts extra strain on a dog’s joints, which can lead to joint pain and arthritis.
Cancer: Obesity has been linked to an increased risk of some types of cancer, including bladder cancer and breast cancer.
Heart disease: Obesity puts extra strain on a dog’s heart, which can lead to heart disease.
What can I do to help my obese dog lose weight?
If your dog is obese, it is important to help it lose weight in a safe and healthy way. Here are some tips:
1. Feed your dog a healthy diet:
Make sure your dog is eating high-quality food that is appropriate for its age, breed, and activity level. Avoid foods that are high in calories and fat.
When dogs eat too much and exercise little, they can accumulate extra weight. Dogs can also get obese by consuming large amounts of snacks, table scraps, and meals during the day and will gain weight fast, especially if they are inactive.
Feed your dog his regular meals in the morning, but replace his second meal with exclusively green beans (low salt), a little kibble, and a doggie multi-vitamin at night to help him lose weight.
Switching to healthier alternatives for your dog’s snacks will not only help him shed pounds, but it’ll also aid in weight loss. Reduce the number of rewards given at a time by minimizing calorie intake. Replace biscuits, cheese, and other high-fat delicacies with fresh chopped carrots, apples, or green beans that are free of added flavorings or sweeteners.
2. Exercise your dog regularly:
Exercise is important for all dogs, but it is especially important for obese dogs. A good goal is to exercise your dog for at least 30 minutes a day. This can be done through walks, runs, playtime, or even swimming.
Just like people, regular physical activity is crucial in maintaining a healthy weight for dogs. It helps to burn calories, and it also keeps the metabolism going. For example, a 10-minute walk burns about 50 calories in a small dog, and up to 200 calories in a large dog.
3. Visit the vet regularly:
Make sure to take your obese dog to the vet for regular check-ups. The vet can help you create a weight-loss plan for your dog and monitor its progress.
4. Start Running as a hobby:
You can opt to run to help your dog lose weight. This is a good way to bond with your dog while also helping it to get some exercise. Try to run for at least 30 minutes a day.
Keep in mind that if you want to run with your dog, he is still quite young. Running on hard surfaces such as concrete or asphalt might cause damage to a dog’s joints. Avoid jogging on hard surfaces until your pup is at least 12 months old, and preferably 18 months old, according to many breeders. Instead, engage him in other activities such as swimming, playing fetch, or Frisbee. These activities won’t put as much strain on his joints.
5. Go for walks:
Walking is a great way to bond with your dog while also helping it get some exercise. Try to walk for at least 30 minutes a day. If you can’t walk for that long, try walking for shorter periods of time throughout the day.
6. Play fetch:
Playing fetch is a great way to bond with your dog while also helping it get some exercise. Fetch is also a good way to tire out your dog so that it will be less likely to beg for food or snacks.
Swimming is a great way to bond with your dog while also helping it get some exercise. Swimming is also a good way to tire out your dog so that it will be less likely to beg for food or snacks.
8. Use pet stairs:
If you have a small dog, you can help it lose weight by using pet stairs. Pet stairs help your dog get exercise by forcing it to walk up and down the stairs. This is a great way to get your dog some extra exercise without having to do any extra work.
9. Feed your dog smaller meals:
Feeding your dog smaller meals is one approach to assist it shed pounds. This can help you reduce the amount of food your dog eats and the number of calories it consumes.
10. Avoid human food:
Avoid feeding your dog human food to help your dog lose weight. Human foods are frequently high in calories and fat, which can lead to obesity in dogs. Don’t offer your dog table scraps or other human meals.
11. Give your dog healthy snacks:
Giving your dog healthy snacks is one approach to assist it lose weight. This will aid in the reduction of calories ingested by your pup and will also avoid boredom. Carrots, apples, and green beans are great nutritious alternatives for dogs.
12. Make sure your dog is getting enough water:
One way to help your dog lose weight is to make sure it is getting enough water. Water helps to fill up the stomach and can help to reduce the amount of food a dog eats. Make sure to give your dog plenty of fresh, clean water.
13. Avoid giving your dog too many treats:
Avoiding treats is one way to encourage your dog to lose weight. Treats are often high in calories and fat, which can contribute to weight gain in dogs. Avoid offering your dog too many treats or serving it table scraps if possible.
14. Avoid letting your dog become overweight:
Avoiding allowing your dog to become overweight is one approach to assist it to shed pounds. You’ll need to check your dog’s weight and ensure that it gets enough exercise in order for this to work. If you believe your dog is beginning to put on weight, have him checked out by the veterinarian.
15.Switch to a low-carb and high-protein food:
If you are looking for a food that will help your dog lose weight, consider switching to a low-carb and high-protein food. These types of foods can help to reduce the amount of calories your dog ingests and can also help to promote a healthy weight. Many pet stores offer these types of foods, so be sure to ask about them when you are shopping for pet food.
#16. Add more fiber to your dog’s food:
Adding more fiber to your dog’s food is one approach to helping it lose weight. Fiber helps to fill up the stomach and can reduce the amount of calories your dog ingests. Many pet foods already contain some fiber, but you can also add it yourself by mixing in a teaspoon of pumpkin puree or adding some chopped vegetables to your dog’s food.
17. Get your dog a weight loss supplement:
There are many weight loss supplements available for dogs that can help them lose weight. These supplements usually contain fiber and other ingredients that help to fill up the stomach and reduce the amount of calories your dog ingests. Many pet stores sell these types of supplements, so be sure to ask about them when you are shopping for pet food.
18. Be Patient:
Remember that weight loss takes time, so be patient as you help your dog lose weight. It may take a few weeks or even months for your dog to reach its ideal weight. Be sure to continue working with your veterinarian to ensure that your dog is on the right track.
What amounts of food should I feed my dog to promote weight loss?
The amount of food you should feed your dog will depend on its weight, age, and activity level. Your veterinarian can help you determine how much food your dog needs in order to lose weight safely. In general, dogs should be fed two to three small meals per day. Meals should be spaced out evenly throughout the day and shouldn’t exceed the dog’s daily calorie needs.
I got some really cool table from the VCA Hospital blog indicating the calories to feed your dog to achieve the ideal weight for dogs of different weights.
As shown above, a puppy that weighs 10 pounds, you can aim to feed the puppy 210 – 340 kcal per day. For an adult, that weight would be 820 – 1,230 kcal/day to maintain and to lose one pound a week. A 50-pound overweight dog could aim for 1620 kcal/day to lose 2 pounds per week.
If your pet is already eating a diet food or you are unsure of the calories in the food, you can always ask your veterinarian or the pet food company for calorie counts.
What makes veterinary weight loss diets special?
Veterinary weight loss diets are complete and balanced diets that have been specifically formulated to help dogs lose weight.
High carbs and low protein:
Many veterinary weight loss diets also contain L-carnitine, which is an amino acid that helps the body to burn fat. Veterinary weight loss diets are available in both dry and canned formulas and can be found at many pet stores and online retailers.
High fiber diets are another type of diet that can be helpful for dogs trying to lose weight. These diets usually contain high levels of fiber and low levels of fat and calories. Fiber helps to fill up the stomach and can reduce the number of calories your dog ingests. Some vet pet food for weight control that are high in fiber include Royal Canin® Satiety and Hills® Prescription Diet w/d
Contain nutrients that can promote increased metabolism:
Some weight loss diets also contain nutrients that can promote increased metabolism. Metabolism is the process by which the body breaks down food and converts it into energy. A higher metabolism can help the body to burn more calories and lose weight. Some veterinary weight loss diets that contain nutrients that can promote increased metabolism include Royal Canin® Metabolic and Hills® Prescription Diet r/d
How fast should I transition my dog to a low-calorie diet?
When transitioning your dog to a low-calorie diet, it is important to do so gradually. A sudden change in diet can cause digestive upset and may make your dog less likely to eat the food. To transition your dog to a new diet, start by mixing the new food with the old food. Slowly increase the amount of new food while decreasing the amount of old food. After a week or two, your dog should be eating only the new food.
Start by mixing a quarter of the new diet with a sixth of the old for one to two days, then half-and-half for another two days, and finally a third of new food and a quarter of the old food for three days before completely changing to the new diet.
What are some health issues caused by Obesity?
Obesity in dogs can cause a number of health problems, including:
1. Arthritis: Obesity can cause arthritis or make existing arthritis worse. Arthritis is a painful condition that can make it difficult for your dog to walk, run, or play.
2. Diabetes: Obesity can lead to diabetes in dogs. Diabetes is a serious condition that can cause a number of health problems, including blindness, kidney disease, and heart disease.
3. Heart disease: Obesity can cause heart disease in dogs. Heart disease is a serious condition that can lead to heart failure.
4. Breathing problems: Obesity can cause breathing problems in dogs. Breathing problems can make it difficult for your dog to exercise and can lead to fatigue.
5. Liver disease: Obesity can cause liver disease in dogs. Liver disease is a serious condition that can lead to liver failure.
6. Cancer: Obesity can increase the risk of cancer in dogs. Cancer is a serious condition that can be fatal.
7. Kidney disease: Obesity can cause kidney disease in dogs. Kidney disease is a serious condition that can lead to kidney failure.
8. Reproductive problems: Obesity can cause reproductive problems in dogs, including infertility and miscarriages.
9. Skin problems: Obesity can cause skin problems in dogs, including infections, hot spots, and rashes.
10. Gastrointestinal problems: Obesity can cause gastrointestinal problems in dogs, including constipation, diarrhea, and bloating.
Are there different levels of obesity?
Yes, there are different levels of obesity. Obesity is classified as a body condition score (BCS) of 5 or higher on a 9-point scale. A BCS score of 6 and 7 is considered overweight, while a BCS score of 8 and 9 are considered obese.
According to the Body Condition Score, a score of 1 to 3 indicates that a dog is underweight. You’ll be able to notice an underweight dog by his ribs, which will be visible and prominent.
A score of 4 to 5 indicates that a dog is at a healthy weight. You should be able to feel your dog’s ribs without having to press hard, and there should be an obvious waist when viewed from above.
A score of 6 to 7 indicates that a dog is overweight. You’ll be able to feel your dog’s ribs, but they will have a layer of fat covering them. There will be no waist when viewed from above, and the dog may also have a “saggy” belly.
An obese dog will score an 8 to 9 on the Body Condition Score. You won’t be able to feel your dog’s ribs, and there will be no waist when viewed from above. The dog’s belly will be saggy and may hang down low.
What is the ideal weight for my dog?
The ideal weight for your dog depends on a number of factors, including age, breed, and activity level. You should talk to your veterinarian about what is the ideal weight for your dog.
How can I tell if my dog is overweight or obese?
The best way to determine if your dog is overweight or obese is to consult with your veterinarian. They will be able to feel your dog’s body and determine if there is too much fat. They may also recommend a weight loss plan for your dog.
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Hi there! My name is Ben Domb, an owner of two pets and I am one of the co-founders of OurPets HQ. I have several years of experience as a pet care professional in the New England region having spent time in various roles including a stint at a veterinary hospital in Upstate New York, Syracuse area. I am a certified pet care professional and mostly spend my time researching pet nutrition and sharing my thoughts in various blogs and columns. With quarantine and COVID restrictions, I have been spending a lot of time a lot with my dogs and cat and loving it! I also run a small consulting business providing advice to parents on pet nutrition, and especially safe homemade options to try. You can reach me at email@example.com