As pet parents, we want to make sure that our furry friends are as happy and healthy as possible. However, some dog owners may not realize that their canine companion’s health may be at risk if they are overweight.
According to VCA Animal Hospitals, pet obesity is not unusual, and about a third of dogs in the United States are obese. For a canine companion to be “considered obese … they weigh 20% or more above their ideal body weight.” Now, your pup’s ideal weight has a lot to do with his size and breed. If you are having difficulty determining whether your furry friend is at a healthy weight, consider getting your vet’s opinion on the matter.
Unfortunately, if your dog is obese, they have a higher chance of having poor health. In a 2020 YouTube video, rehabilitation therapist, Dr. Jennifer Freeman shared that “there are a myriad of issues when your pet is overweight.”
“It goes from exacerbating arthritis to making it more difficult to handle heat when they’re outside, respiratory issues and even cancer that comes about in a roundabout way. We used to not really look at obesity or fat tissue as an active tissue but we know now that it actually is. And the more excessive fat tissue that you have in your body, the more it causes generalized inflammation, so that’s what leads to these certain health complications,” explained Dr. Freeman.
Fortunately, there are ways to help combat pet obesity. For one, you should focus on regularly exercising your pet. Consider taking your pooch on a 30-minute walk each day before you head out to work. That being said, if your precious pup has joint issues or arthritis you may want to look into physical therapy programs. Dr. Freeman explained that during a physical therapy program intended for weight loss, most animals use an underwater treadmill.
“It’s difficult to walk in there, it’s a lot of work. They burn calories -- they get a better range of motion. So a lot of the dogs who are obese that have difficulty holding themselves up on land, they can walk on the treadmill. Usually we have them come in a couple of times of week for a while and then hopefully the goal is they can go out with their owners after having lost some weight and gained some stamina,” said the rehabilitation therapist.
Under your vet’s guidance, you may also want to change up your pet’s diet. According to Dr. Greg Martinez, DVM., pet parents with an obese pooch should “cut [their] calories by 20 percent.” This means that you should refrain from giving them high-calorie treats or table scraps.