October 14th was National Pet Obesity Awareness Day, but obesity is a serious health problem for dogs all year long. Obesity in dogs is almost as common as obesity in humans. It is estimated that 56 percent of dogs are overweight or obese in the US. At Anasazi Animal Clinic, we want your fur baby to live a long, healthy and happy life, being able to do all the things he loves. It may seem like common sense to some, but it can be hard for many owners to tell when their dog needs to shed a few pounds. Here are some easy ways to tell if your dog is overweight:
1. What shape is your dog?
One of the easiest ways to determine if your dog is overweight is to look at his body shape. If you notice that your pup’s body appears oval-shaped, without clear definition, it’s likely that he is carrying excess weight. Look at your dog from the side. A sagging or swinging abdomen is another indication of obesity. Your dog’s abdomen should not be the same level as the chest. Ideally, your dog should have a clearly defined waist, that is slightly higher than his chest.
2. Can you feel your dog’s ribs?
It’s very difficult to feel an overweight dog’s ribs because there is a bit—or a lot— of cushion in the way. When your dog is a healthy weight, you should be able to feel and count your dog’s ribs. On the other hand, if you can see them clearly, this might mean he is underweight.
3. Does he have fat deposits?
A dog who is overweight often has visible fat deposits. or pockets of fat, on the top of their hips, chest, spine, neck, or limbs.
4. Is he able to groom himself?
Does your dog struggle to reach around to his backside to groom himself? Aside from any other medical or physical issues, your dog should be able to groom easily. If he can’t, it may be because he is overweight.
5. Is he constipated?
Overweight dogs tend to have digestive issues, including gas and constipation. If your dog is experiencing constipation, he may need to lose some weight
6. Is he acting differently?
Some other behavioral signs can indicate overeating or excess weight:
- Trouble getting around
- Trouble breathing
- Lack of desire to exercise
- Scarfing food down
Consequences of Obesity in Dogs
A little extra weight might not seem like a big deal. Many owners may even think it’s cute. But if your pup continues gaining weight, he will experience serious health problems that will impact his quality of life, including:
- Decreased exercise tolerance
- Difficulty breathing
- Heat intolerance
- High blood pressure
- Liver disease
- Compromised immune function
- Increased risk for cancer
Still not sure if your pup is overweight? When you bring him in to see us, we will weigh him and perform a body condition score to determine whether or not he is a healthy weight. We will also ensure that he is on the right type of diet for his age, health, and activity levels. We all like to show our dogs love by giving them treats, but here are some other ways to let your dog know you love him, without food.
At Anasazi Animal Clinic in Gilbert, we believe preventative care is the best possible form of care. But if your pet is overweight the good news is, if caught early enough, many of the effects of obesity in dogs can be reversed through proper education, sufficient exercise, and implementation of a healthy weight management program. If you’re not sure of your pet’s ideal weight range or necessary caloric intake, contact us and schedule a visit for your pup today!
Photo by Angel Luciano on Unsplash