Obesity in dogs

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pugObesity is a problem for some dogs.  Dogs in the nineties are not as active as they have been in past years because their owner’s lifestyles have changed.  More dogs belong to families with no one home during the day and are relatively sedentary.  Even when the owner is around, activity is often minimal.  Added to decreased activity is an increase in the emphasis on dog food palatability.  Owners have sought foods that their pets just will not pass up.  The well intentioned indulgence of owners can imbalance the diet or oversupply calories.  When combined, decreased activity and increased consumption lead to more calories eaten than used up.

The main reason for obesity is overfeeding.  There are other causes, e.g. Hypothyroidism, hyperadreno­corticism (Cushing’s disease) and diabetes mellitus.  Your vet can check your pet for these problems.

There is an increased risk of diseases with obesity, e.g.

  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Joint and locomotor problems
  • Respiratory difficulties
  • Hypertension
  • Fatty liver
  • Dystociadog
  • Increased anaesthetic and surgical risk

To help your pet lose weight.

  • Feed several meals throughout the day. Feeding two or more small meals daily helps reduce hunger and begging.
  • Provide non-food-related affection. When your dog begs for attention, it is important to respond with non-food related affection such as play, petting, or teaching “new tricks”.  Exercise, such as walking is also an excellent behavior substitute for eating.
  • Isolate the pet when the family eats. Removing the pet from the areas where meals are prepared or where the family eats helps eliminate the temptation to give table scraps.
  • Reduce or eliminate snacks or treats. Remember that treats add calories.  Ideally, we should eliminate treats.  If you can’t, reduce the number of treats given each day and keep track on your daily log.  This way you can control how many treats your pet gets each day.  Don’t forget that every time your pet is given food after begging, the begging behavior is reinforced, and begging is encouraged and maintained.
  • Feed all meals and treats only in the pet’s bowl. This helps reduce “successful begging” since it requires more effort on the part of family members who try to sneak treats to the dog.

 Tip:  If multiple members of the family like to feed the dog or give treats, place the daily allowance of food and treats in a container.  Then, everyone can feed the dog from the container until it is empty.  Once it is empty, there is no more until the next day.3

Exercise helps increase energy and burns calories and help tone muscle.  Walking will help get your dog in better physical condition.  Distance is not important.  Start with 10 minutes a day and increase up to 30 minutes a day if possible.

Ideally, the diet should contain:

  • Normal fiber level that actually helps create a healthy gut (moderately fermentable fiber source).
  • An adjusted fatty acid profile that helps maintain skin and coat condition.
  • Very high quality protein to assure positive protein balance (lose fat not muscle).
  • Ingredients that allow a transition to a weight maintenance food once the ideal body weight is reached. Some canine weight loss products dilute calories with high levels of fiber, and very low fat levels.  The fatty acid profile of those fats is not adjusted; this is important because as the fiber goes up, the digestibility of fat (including essential fatty acids) will go down.

Suggested foods are:5

  • Hills R/D4
  • Royal Canin Obesity
  • Green and yellow vegetables

Click Here for an easy to read obesity chart

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