Obese Dogs - Is This a Real Problem or Overrated?

American dogs are getting fat - lots of them.  According to recent statistics, an estimated 25 to 40 percent of dogs in the US are considered to be obese or are likely to become obese.

Those statistics are pretty alarming - but are they really accurate?  Is dog obesity really such a big problem... or is it overrated?

The short answer is yes - it is a very big problem.  Here's why. 

"Fat" is in the eye of the beholder.  Most dog owners don't recognize that their dogs are overweight - they only find out when they take the dog to the veterinarian for another reason.

We see our dogs on a daily basis.  Most pets begin gaining weight slowly.  The dog seems happy and healthy to the pet owner and it's often hard to recognize these body changes when they happen gradually over a period of time.  Only a historical review of body weight reveals the insidious nature of this condition.

Dog obesity is more common than most pet owners think.  In fact, it is the most common nutrition-related health condition seen in dogs in our society.

The primary causes of obesity are overeating and lack of exercise.  When regular caloric intake exceeds the energy burned, the excess is stored as fat. As little as an extra 1 percent caloric intake can result in a 25 percent increase over ideal body weight by middle age.

Overweight dogs may experience difficulty breathing.  Obesity can shorten your pet's life and increase health risks for arthritis, diabetes, intervertebral disc disease, hypertension, asthma and other diseases.

So what can you do to keep your dog fit and healthy?

  • Lower your dog's daily caloric intake by changing your dog's food (there are several diets formulated for weight loss) or the amount fed daily.

  • Increasing fiber or water intake may sometimes be necessary to satiate your dog.

  • Increase exercise activity.  Encourage your dog to play and go for walks more often.

I have a lot of clients with obese dogs who have had problems trying to get their dog's weight down.  One of the best new products I've seen that can effectively help control your dog's weight is the
Hill's Prescription Diet Therapeutic Weight Reduction Plan .  This is a great approach to weight management - it is convenient and effective.  Basically, you get pre-measured meals and biscuits in two sizes to help your dog reach his weight goal.  This makes it really easy for you to feed your dog correctly.  The plan comes with a refillable storage box.  It has been a very effective way to help dogs lose weight.  If your dog is overweight, check out this plan and discuss it with your veterinarian.  To learn more, go to:  Hill's Prescription Diet Therapeutic Weight Reduction Plan.

Cut down on the amount of treats you give your dog.  If you have an obese dog and feed treats, start by cutting the treats in half.

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