Cute and Pudgy? Or Dangerously Overweight

It can be tough not to shower your dog in treats and extra food. They give you so much love and affection, and nothing gets that tail wagging like something yummy. But more than half of all dogs in the U.S. are overweight or obese, and if your dog is among that statistic, there’s a reason your vet may suggest you cut back a little.

We have some tips for getting the weight off, as well as details on the health risks those extra pounds bring.

Is Your Pet Overweight?

The first thing you should do is determine where your pet falls on the weight scale. Take a quick look at your pet from above. Your dog should have a defined waist, as well as a straight build down his sides. If he’s more rounded or oval in shape, you likely have a problem. There’s a chart here that can help you as you assess things.

If you still aren’t sure, your vet probably weighs your pet and does a visual inspection during your visit. A quick trip to your vet’s offices can give you the information you need.

Facing the Risks

Obviously, you’ll want to make sure your dog isn’t too slim, and the above chart can help with that, too. But getting and staying at just the right weight can be tough—for pets as well as humans. Those extra pounds come at a price, though, putting your dog at a higher risk for the following health conditions:

  • Arthritis
  • Heart and lung issues
  • Diabetes
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Damage to joints, bones, and ligaments
  • Back and hip problems

Overall, though, being overweight can shorten a dog’s lifespan, reducing the number of years you get to spend together.

Helping Your Dog Stay Slim

The first place to look when it comes to reducing your pet’s weight is at the food you’re feeding him. It should be high in protein and low in fat. It should also be moderate in carbohydrates. If that’s the case and your dog still can’t get to a healthy weight, it may be time to reduce portions.

If your canine is like most dogs, treats make his day. Dogs care more about the quantity of treats than what they actually are, so first look for low-calorie, low-fat snacks. You can even give out baby carrots and apple slices instead of store-bought treats.

Exercise is also important, but an overweight dog may tire easily. Try taking your dog for short walks, increasing to longer ones as the pounds start to melt away. When the weather is warm, take your dog for a swim. Swimming is a great form of exercise and is something both you and your dog will enjoy. When the weather doesn’t allow for outdoor walks, consider ways he can get that exercise indoors. Here are some fun indoor games that will keep your pet active on those cold or rainy days.

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