Today’s dog owners have easy access to the best health services and nutrition in history. But despite the wide range of healthy Dubai pet food brands available and the increasing number of great product options in the pet health industry, dog obesity remains a worldwide problem.
As a pet parent, you play a crucial role in helping your canine become healthy and happy at all times. Here is a guide to help you address obesity in your dog – from determining if your dog is gaining weight to devising a plan to keep him lean and healthy.
How to Determine If Your Canine Is Overweight or Obese
The old-school way of determining whether your dog is overweight or obese is to feel his ribs. A dog is considered fit if you can feel and easily count the ribs. If you cannot clearly distinguish and count your dog’s ribs with your hands, then it is time to get him started on a diet and exercise plan.
The characteristics of an obese canine include a rounded stomach, no waist, prominent folds of skin that sway whenever he walks, and a thick layer of fat covering his ribs that is movable and soft.
In addition, you can look into canine body-condition charts provided by reputable dog food manufacturers. But if you are still unsure, consider visiting your vet for a thorough check-up and assessment.
Causes of Canine Obesity
As in humans, obesity in dogs is the response of the body to a surplus of energy saved as fat. Factors like genetics, food, stress management and exercise can cause significant weight gain in a dog.
For instance, leaving bowls of food out for your canine at all times or giving him treats every single time he asks for some are sure ways to get your dog on the path to obesity. Low activity levels are also a contributing factor.
How to Conquer Dog Obesity
Feed Your Dog Right
The type of food you give your canine plays a crucial role in keeping him healthy. Most dog food brands have labels on their packages, informing you of how much to feed a dog on a daily basis. But these references are recommendations only, so you must make adjustments based on the specific needs of your dog.
Remember to take into account all the treats he consumes. Generally, these extravagances must not exceed 10% of his daily calorie intake.
Get Him Moving
You must exercise your dog regularly. The more he gets to walk and play outdoors, the more calories he will burn. Also, by filling his time with fun, engaging activities, he won’t be spending most of his time around his food bowl. Best of all, this increased activity will not just benefit your furry friend – it will also help you lose weight and be healthy.
There are plenty of activities that you and your canine can actually do together to help him maintain a healthy weight. Swimming and walking, for instance, are low-impact undertakings that can burn calories and build muscles without hurting the joints. Playing fetch is another great activity because quick runs can do a lot when it comes to raising fitness levels.
Lose the Weight
The first step in helping your dog shed the pounds is to keep a diary of what he is eating (and since he can’t write, you will be the one to do this on his behalf). Monitor how much food you are feeding him with a measuring cup, and begin keeping a record of his weight. As much as possible, you need to weigh him at least once a week.
Also, establish a feeding schedule. For instance, offer his meals on certain times of the day only. Leave the food bowl on the floor for a specific period of time, perhaps for 20 minutes, and then put away his leftovers. Don’t forget to instruct your family not to provide your dog with any table scraps or treats.
In the event that you have more than one dog, you must feed them separately. This way, your obese canine won’t eat anything that’s left by the others.
There are indeed a lot of ways that you can help your canine lose weight. But before changing his diet or introducing an exercise regimen, you must consult your vet first for a checkup and expert advice. This ensures that the excess weight is not caused by an underlying health problem. Also, your vet can give recommendations on the most suitable exercise and activities for your canine based on his age and health, along with how much he must be eating on a daily basis.
Obesity is a huge problem in dogs as this puts your canine at risk of different medical conditions, such as respiratory problems, stroke, and kidney disease. But this health issue is preventable and treatable. Choose the best dog food brands for his feedings, get him moving, and understand that weight loss should be done slowly and with vet supervision.
Farah Al-Khojai is the Managing Partner of Pet’s Delight. A passionate entrepreneur, Farah holds a Bsc in Government from the London School of Economics. She is always on the lookout for new opportunities to develop and grow the pet and equestrian retail and wholesale market in the UAE and beyond, and is proud to be at the helm of the first and the largest pet care provider in the market representing world-class brands including Orijen, Applaws, Hunter, Savic, Flamingo, Ruffwear and Rogz.