How to Tell if Your Dog is Overweight

Just like anybody else that own dogs, my dogs are a major part of our family.   You want to keep them as healthy as possible but could your dog be overweight?   Sometimes it's real obvious, especially if your dog is extremely obese.  For a dog to be overweight, he does not necessarily have to be obese. 

Your dog can be overweight by just five or ten pounds.  This can still cause health problems and also may be the start of excessive weight gain.  So, how do you tell if your dog is on the path to obesity? If you are viewing your dog from the side, his tummy should taper up towards his back.  If it is at the same level as the ribcage, or lower, than your dog is overweight.  You can also tell by feeling with your hand flat on the dog's ribcage.  You should be able to feel your dogs ribs without applying any pressure.

There are different reasons for a dog to be overweight, but the most common is over eating due to over feeding.  It's important to feed your dog foods that have the nutrients for his specific needs.  If your dog is overweight you will need a dog food with less calories but will still supply the needed nutrients.  Your vet will more than likely put your dog on a diet with a specifically recommended brand of food.  Don't leave bowls of food out during the day.  Some dogs will eat just because they are bored.  It is much better to put your dog on a feeding schedule.  Do not feed your dog from the table and make sure your dog gets daily exercise.  If your dog is lacking in exercise, this may be all he needs. If your dog is overweight, this can shorten his life. 

There are many problems associated with a dog being overweight.  Just like in people, obese canines can suffer from heart and respiratory problems.    They can have skin irritations from fat rolls because of the bacteria growth in the rolls.   Overweight dogs can be very uncomfortable and they can become overheated easily. There are certain breeds that are more prone to being overweight.  One of the breeds are Labrador Retrievers.  I had  an overweight Labrador.  This dog loved to eat.  I noticed the weight gain after I had her spayed.  I thought for sure this was the reason, but getting your dog spayed or neutered will not put weight on your dog.  I was feeding her more than she needed to eat and had to put her on a diet.   Her obesity did cause her to have some breathing problems and as she got older she had trouble walking without getting short of breath.  She was fourteen when she died.  One of the reasons she was able to live to be fourteen was because she was a very active dog. There are some other breeds prone to weight gain; Daschunds, Cairn Terriers, Cocker Spaniels, Beagles, Collies, Shelties, and Basset Hounds.  If you have one of these breeds, watch what you are feeding them and make sure they get plenty of exercise.  It is best to apply this advice, no matter what breed of dog you have.

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Mark Cruz
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