As in people, dogs carrying extra kilos of weight place additional demands on virtually all the organs of their bodies. Animals that weigh over 20% of their ideal body weight are considered obese. The health risks to overweight dogs are serious and every dog owner should be aware of them. An overweight pet may be susceptible to health problems such as:
Damage to joints and bones
Heart disease and high blood pressure
And reduced life span.
How to assess the body condition of your dog
It’s not enough to simply follow food label instructions and hope for the best. Like people, every dog’s body uses food differently and their nutrient requirements change with age
If you feed your dog more food than they needs, the extra energy may be stored as fat and could lead to obesity, which can cause a number of health complications.
The best way to figure out how much to feed your dog is by keeping tabs on their body condition from any early age.
Here are three ways to check your pet’s body condition
Step 1. Rib Check
Place both of your thumbs on your pet's backbone and spread your hands out across their rib cage. You want to be able to feel their ribs.
Step 2. Profile Check
Look at your dog’s profile and see if their abdomen is tucked up behind the rib cage. It helps if you’re level with your dog.
Step 3. Overhead Check
Looking at your dog from overhead, see if you can see his waist behind his ribs. Most dogs at a healthy weight should have an hourglass figure.
Maintaining ideal body condition
Here are some tips to reduce your dogs weight:
Reduce your dog’s calorie intake by feeding a nutritionally complete and balance weight reduction formula. Find out about Purina's brands here.
Measure their food intake.
Omit feeding table scraps
Do not give them high calorie treats
Do not allow them access to other food sources such as garbage bins or compost bins.
If you believe your dog is overweight, it is recommended to consult your veterinarian, as any predisposing abnormalities can be diagnosed and treated.
Getting your dog into shape
To get your pet in shape, begin with a moderate exercise program
. Gradually increase the length of the walks and extend play period times. At the beginning of an exercise program, obese pets may experience fatigue. They also have little tolerance for heat and humidity. Watch for shortness of breath or other signs of fatigue and dehydration
and slow down or stop before they experience any problems.
Walking and games are beneficial for both you and your dog. Calories are burned off and the bond between you is strengthened.
About the Purina PetCare Advice Centre
The Purina PetCare Advice Centre brings together a team with in-depth knowledge, experience and special interests with the skills to advise about health and nutrition, behaviour, training, socialisation, as well as basic first aid for your cat or dog. Our team of dedicated pet lovers can also provide information about Purina products and services to help you give your pet the best possible care. If you've got a question about any aspect of pet care, then ask the Purina PetCare Advice team.