Updated: Sep 2, 2020
Obesity in dogs can be caused by a variety of things: feeding too much, poor exercise plan, hormonal imbalances, some breeds are more prone to weight issues (i.e. labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, bulldogs, and cocker spaniels, etc.) genetics and your dogs gut bacteria. Overweight dogs seem to be more prone to injuries, such as joint and ligament injuries, arthritis and lameness.
So what can you do to determine if you dog is overweight? First, get your dogs weighed and check with your vet to determine your dogs appropriate weight. If you have a purebred, each dog has what's called an AKC Breed Standard.
This breed standard includes the weight range of a male and female. As an example the Australian Shepherd males should weigh between 50-65 pounds and females should weigh between 40-55 pounds. If you have a rescue, you can do a DNA test to determine the breeding of your dog. Then based on these results, check the AKC standard on those breeds and take the average weight or base it on the information that the rescue organization provided you.
Then if your dog is outside of this range there are several things that you can do. First, you should be able to feel all of your dog's ribs without a thick layer of padding. Your dog's chest should also be wider than his abdomen, with a noticeable tuck-up from chest to stomach. An overweight dog will generally have no waist and no distinction between chest and stomach. You can also stand with your dog between your legs and look down at your dog. You should see the top of an hour glass. Wide at the top then a curve inwards and then a slight curve outwards. If you see a straight line or a bulge in the middle - Your dog is overweight!
What can you do? First, check your dogs weight and do an assessment. Second, check your dogs food. Check the protein and fat content on the ingredients list and determine how much you should be feeding your dog. Make sure to use a measuring cup. If you have concerns about your dogs food, check with your veterinarian and stop by The Mill of Whiteford and ask for Cassie Holloway. She has a Masters Degree in Animal Science specializing in Monogastric Nutrition. Cassie is a valuable resource and she can assist you in selecting the right dog food to make sure your dog is getting the right amount of nutrients and calories for the animals breed and level of activity. Cassie helped me select FROMM Gold Weight Management for one of my own dogs. The Mill carries a wide variety of excellent dog food brands. Stop by and check them out.
Third, every dog needs a routine plan which includes physical and mental exercises. This can come in a variety of different activities. Find things that you dog loves: hunting, searching, running, jumping, swimming, hiking, take a walk on the beach, go bike riding together, take an obedience, rally, agility, barn hunt, or fly ball class, take your dog on a boat ride, teach them some new tricks, play in a sprinkler, do some fitness exercises, or take them on an outing to a pet friendly store (i.e. Lowe's, Home Depot, Home Goods, etc.).
Cami swimming laps and reteriving at Pet Depot in Timonium, MD
Lastly, make sure the entire family is on board. Everyone knows exactly how much food your dog should be getting. You can also check on the amount of calories that are in the treats and biscuits that you are currently using. There are many treats that have under 10 calories, such as: Nulo Trainers, Zukes Minis, Fromm Crunchy's O's and Charlie Bear Original Crunch.
Weigh you dog frequently to see if your plan is working. It's not easy but stay the course and you will see results as I did. Try something new with your dog, you will be amazed at what they can do.
Yes it's true, dogs are 55.8% overweight. This statistic hasn't budged much in years according to a survey of pet owners and veterinarians in 2019. The percent of pets that are overweight is troubling and on the rise according to the Association of Pet Obesity Prevention.