Nancy Kerns: Hi! I am Nancy Kerns, Editor of the Whole Dog Journal and I want to talk to you about fat dogs. You should be aware that if your dog is overweight, she will probably live a shorter, less comfortable life than she would if she was lighter. Being overweight puts more strain on your dog's joints and ligaments and makes her more prone to injury when she exercises.
Excess weight can contribute to back problems including slip to discs in many dogs especially the long backed breeds and any pain she feels will make her feel less interested in exercising which exacerbates the situation. High blood pressure, difficulty breathing and strain on all the dogs' internal organs are other effects of being overweight.
In addition, it's more difficult to stabilize the blood sugar of a fat dog with diabetes. And it's far more dangerous for your dog to be unanesthetized for any reason, since anesthesia drugs are absorbed in body fat and take longer to be metabolized out of her system. We have seen estimates of the overweight dog population being as high as 55%. However, few owners seem to recognize that their are dogs are too fat.
To determine whether your dog is more than his healthy weight, stand over him when he's standing up. Can you see a defined waist, that's ideal or is his silhouette from this angle similar to a log, if so, he's likely to be overweight? Viewed from the side, your dog's bottom line should slope upward from the base of his ribs toward his hind legs. If that line is level or bulging downward, he's fat.
Can you feel your dog's ribs, they should be easy to feel and are just a thin layer of fat. Heat intolerance and exercise intolerance are two more indications that your dog is overweight. If you determine that your dog is overweight, you'll need to reduce the total number of calories he receives everyday. Start the reduction with any treats he's getting, use his ordinary food or something low-calorie, like carrots for treats.
Look at the label of the food you feed and check the percentage of fat it contains. Grain-free foods are helpful for many dogs, but they are notorious for containing high fat levels. Try to find out lower fat food with high quality protein sources.
You should also find a number of ways to increase the amount of exercise he does if you're not already walking him everyday, start, begin with short distances and increase the distance as he gains fitness.
Initiate some low impact chasing or fetching games into your daily routine, perhaps when he's excitedly waiting for his breakfast or dinner. Swimming is a great low impact exercise. Look into facilities with therapy pools for dogs and weigh him frequently to help you track his progress. He may not thank you now, but he will reap the benefits of a longer better quality life.