By Nancy Cope
A fat or obese dog may look cute or cuddly to some people, but this condition will actually put dogs in a risky health situation.
Dog owners should not let their dogs eat excessively as this habit is actually more harmful to them than anything else.
Dogs who are determinedly obese are more at risk for serious medical problems that will affect their lungs, kidney, heart, liver, and joints. They are also more prone to injury and have more risk in a surgery.
Here are some helpful tips to prevent these types of health problems in your pet.
• Don’t feed too much – this is basic and simple, any dog owner knows that like people, dogs should not over-eat to avoid health problems. So feed him just enough and watch the calorie content of what your dog is being fed. Also, training your dogs to eat on a schedule will also help to condition them on a regular and healthy feeding habit.
• Vet checks – if your dog somehow looks a little overweight, bring them to the vet right away for a physical exam. Similarly, a pet dog who may look a little thin should also be brought to the vet. A good physical exam will help to determine any problem with feeding and exercising. At this point, the veterinarian can provide a good feeding and exercise program to be followed consciously.
• Low-calorie/low-fat food – while there are commercial dog foods that are low in calories, again a check with the vet should be made on this. Otherwise, your dog may just need proper feeding habits with the right nutrition. Some animals may experience problems with low-fat or low-calorie commercial foods, so better check with the vet first. Some dry foods for dogs contain 11 to 16 percent fat, so read the back labels before buying.
• Cut back on the extras – it is very easy to get tempted to throw in that extra food or kibble when your dog begins to indicate that they need more than what they just had, but that’s the problem-the more they get fed extra, the fatter they become. So as a dog owner who cares a lot more about his or her dog’s health than giving him that extra food or snacks every time he whines, take control and don’t give the extra food.
• Good snacks – these can be found in natural food bakeries where they sell appropriate snacks for pets. Better snacks also mean apple slices or orange, banana bits, pretzels. Again just don’t overdo it, only feed them good snacks when they really need it and not every burger or cholesterol-laden food that they can munch on at every nudge.
• Exercise – always schedule regular exercise for your pet, even toy breeds like a Chihuahuas need to have their regular exercise. A regular walk or play in the park will help to keep the excess weight down or burn the extra food your kids may have fed your dog. Exercise also helps to make their heart and lungs stronger as well as build their resistance to certain diseases. Being with another dog or dogs will also encourage more play or romping so that means more exercise for your furry friend.
• Supplements – some supplements contain calories that should be avoided already. Vegetable oils which are often added to the kibble to treat a dry coat or a dry skin have this unnecessary calorie content. Foods with enough omega fatty acids or a Vitamin E will be better for your dog.
Obesity can also worsen a dog’s osteoarthritis, lead to respiratory problems during exercise and in hot weather, cause diabetes mellitus, and generally will make them less active. But avoiding these potential health problems is possible when the owner is conscious enough to know what the dog needs aside from a healthy dose of food.
Like humans, an obese dog should be made to eat healthier foods and exercise slowly. A slow exercise routine that can be accelerated as the dog’s weight progresses is a good program. No obese dog should be made to exercise excessively right away. The key should be to start slow but make it consistent for them.
Nancy Cope is the owner of four rescue dogs and Pampered Dog Gifts.