Many dogs today are not at a healthy
weight. In fact, a study conducted by the Association for Pet
Obesity Prevention in 2009 showed that more than 45% of dogs in the
United States were overweight or obese. This was a 2% increase
from what a similar study found in 2007.
"If you have tried to put your dog on a diet and he has not lost any weight, talk to your veterinarian."
Why Should Pet Owners Be Concerned About Overweight Dogs?
A few extra pounds may not seem like
that big of a problem, but many pet owners misidentify their dogs as
being of normal weight when they are actually overweight. So if
you think that your pet is only a "little" overweight, there is
a very good chance that he is actually dangerously overweight or obese.
Many health conditions are seen more frequently in overweight dogs, including:
- Cruciate ligament ruptures
- Intervertebral disk disease
- Congestive heart failure
- Cushing's disease
- Skin disorders
So, dogs that are heavier than normal
can have a lot of health problems. But interestingly the opposite
is true as well. A group of dogs that were fed 25% less than another
group that self-selected the size of their meals lived significantly
longer and healthier lives according to a 2002 study that was published
in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
How Do I Know If My Pet Is Overweight?
Owners should routinely examine their
dogs to determine if they are maintaining, gaining or losing weight.
Using a scale is ideal to track small changes, but you should also know
what a healthy weight looks and feels like. Have your dog stand
up and use the following check list to determine whether or not he is
at an ideal weight.
- The ribs should not be visible
but should be easily felt when you lightly run your hands along his
- Looking from the side, his
abdomen should be "tucked," meaning that his chest is closer to
the ground than his belly.
- From above, he should have
an hourglass figure. His chest and hips should be wider than his
Of course some breeds or individuals
may vary slightly from the above and still be very healthy.
Consult with your veterinarian if you have any questions.
Dogs that need to only lose a few pounds
can usually do so if their owners are dedicated to helping them.
Increasing the amount of exercise that a dog gets is very helpful.
If your pet has osteoarthritis being more active might make him sore.
In these cases, joint
supplements can help keep
him comfortable and allow him to get the exercise he needs.
Try to reduce your dog's overall
caloric intake by about 15% percent. Start by strictly limiting
treats. These can add a surprising number of calories to your
dog's diet when they are given regularly. Consider switching
your dog to a "diet" dog food since most pets are not satisfied
if they are simply given 15% less of their current food. Examine
the labels carefully. There is little regulation as to what can
be called a "diet" dog food. In some cases, what is described
as such may actually have more calories per cup than what you are currently
If you absolutely have to give your dog treats, switch to a low-calorie brand like Lean Treats and give them sparingly.
In general, home-cooked diets are not
appropriate for dogs that are overweight unless they are prepared from
a recipe formulated by a veterinary nutritionist. If your dog
will only eat a home-cooked diet, multivitamins will be necessary. Another way to get
the benefit of fresh foods without the extra calories and time and effort
spent preparing them is to add a supplement to your pet's
If you have tried to put your dog on
a diet and he has not lost any weight, talk to your veterinarian.
He or she can examine your dog and determine how much weight he needs
to lose and the healthiest way to go about doing so. In some cases,
an underlying medical disorder like hypothyroidism might be to blame,
and treatment will be necessary before weight loss will occur.
Your veterinarian might prescribe foods that are extremely calorie-restricted, pain relievers to encourage exercise, or medications that
can help your pet lose weight. An over-the-counter supplement
called Vetri-Lean has also been shown to help some dogs lose
The above is provided for information purposes only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of any condition.
This information does not cover all possible variables, conditions, reactions, or risks relating to any topic, medication, or product and should not
be considered complete. Certain products or medications may have risks and you should always consult your local veterinarian concerning the treatment of
your pet. Any trademarks are the property of their respective owners.