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Is Your Dog Overweight?

Is your dog overweight? It’s a question, that if you haven’t asked yourself or more importantly your veterinarian, you probably should. #BigDog issues arise, in many cases, when a dog is overweight because it puts additional strain on their bones and joints. As Dr. Carol Osborne said, “your dog should have a waist.” You can stand above and behind your dog, look down and see if you notice a natural waist. If you don’t, your dog just might be overweight. This means you

As a pet parent to a big dog, you want to do what you can to keep him healthy. Ways to assure good health is by feeding a healthy diet, exercising with your pet and keep your pet’s weight in check. Many pet parents equate feeding with love. We also offer treats when we are training our puppies; there’s nothing wrong with giving our pets treats, but make certain they aren’t adding on too many calories and making her overweight.

Veterinarians recommend cutting back on the amount of food you feed your dog in relation to the snacks he gets. One way to treat your pet is to offer vegetables as treats. Carrots, celery, cauliflower and limited amounts of fruits like apple slices can be a substitute to store purchased, pre-processed dog snacks.

Here are other ways that pet parents of big dogs can assure their dog will live a long, healthy and happy life.

Is Your Dog Overweight

Have regular veterinary check-ups.

Regular veterinary check-ups for your pet is a crucial part of pet parenting and assuring your pet is healthy. A vet check-up for your puppy will give the vet a baseline for her future health. Find a veterinarian you trust and make certain you keep up with at least annual check-ups, more often if your vet recommends it.

A puppy or a senior dog may require more frequent examinations. Ask your vet how much and how often your big dog should eat. Also, ask for recommendations on the best types of food for your big breed puppy to help assure he grows at the optimal rate, doesn’t become overweight and that he is not experiencing any joint or bone health issues.

As a pet parent you need to be vigilant and pay attention to any changes in your pet’s behavior. Whether she limps when she runs, isn’t finishing meals or is generally “not himself;” if you notice this, you will want to give your vet a call and plan on an office visit.

Remember, because our pets age faster than humans, a lot of health issues can develop over the course of a year – between annual vet visits.

How much should you feed your big dog?

Proper nutrition and, more importantly, proper amounts of food will go a long way in keeping your pet healthy and his bones and joints healthy. A proper diet will impact your dog’s:

  1. Energy level
  2. Skin health
  3. Coat
  4. Gastrointestinal function
  5. Weight

Look for foods that are high quality, from a reputable company or consider making food at home for your big dog. After you have decided on a food – you can even ask your veterinarian for suggestions – make note of how your dog reacts to the food. Does his coat look good? Does he have a change in his energy level? Does he seem to be itching and scratching or do you notice flaky sink? Are you noticing a change in his weight? If you notice any of these issues, you will likely want to change his diet. Be careful to slowly integrate new foods as an abrupt change could lead to tummy issues.

Don’t let your pet get overweight.

Even in small dogs, a weight gain of a pound can put a strain on her heart or joints. An overweight big dog can suffer the same issues. Excess weight on a big dog can also lead to heart issues as well as hip and joint issues.

If your pet becomes overweight you may want to gradually cut back on the amount of food you’re feeding. IF you feed snacks and treats, consider a change to more vegetables and fewer processed, store bought treats.

Make certain your pet gets enough exercise.

Even a senior, arthritic dog can benefit from routine exercise. You will want to incorporate exercise into his daily routine and take short walks as a way to not only keep his weight under control, but to help loosen his arthritic joints.

A big puppy who doesn’t get enough exercise to burn off excess energy can lead to a puppy who is destructive and he could even suffer from separation anxiety. Take your high energy big puppy on walks before you leave for work or when you know she will be home alone for long stretches.

Your dog should get at least one hour, up to two hours, of exercise per day! This may vary by breed, age and size of the dog, but it is a rule of thumb to consider. Imagine too, if your dog is getting that much exercise, you might be too and that could improve your own health – it’s a win-win.

Dental care as a routine part of pet ownership.

You may not think about your dog’s dental health as often as you should, but dental health is important in your dog’s overall health. If plaque and tartar build up your pet could suffer serious health issues. Get on a routine of preventative dental care the day you bring your puppy home. Purchase a doggie toothbrush and toothpaste and get him accustomed to brushing from the start. You can also use oral rinses, feed dental care treats (remember, this could add to a weight issue if you’re not careful) and brush. Ask your veterinarian for tips on brushing and caring for your dog’s teeth.

Pay attention to your dogs’ subtle signs.

Dogs have an instinctive need to hide the signs of injury or illness; that’s why you may not notice overt changes in your pet’s behavior. It’s up to you to notice any subtle changes in behavior, eating patterns or desire to exercise. If you notice any changes, give your veterinarian a call and explain what is going on and between the two of you you can determine whether you should bring your dog in for an examination.

Robbi Hess

Journalist, humor columnist and author of "Your Field Guide to Becoming a Pet Blogger".