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Dog Obesity

Obesity is the most common nutrition-related health problem for dogs, with some experts estimating that 25 to 44 percent of dogs are obese. You may think that it’s no big deal for your pup to gain a few extra pounds, but you’re wrong—just a couple of pounds can be significant. For example, an extra 5 pounds on a dog that should weigh 17 pounds is equivalent to an extra 50 pounds on a person who should weigh 170. Dogs that are obese can develop diabetes, respiratory problems, and gastrointestinal disorders.

Signs of Obesity

It is easy for obesity to sneak up on you. One day you may suddenly look at your dog and wonder when he put on so many extra pounds! Dogs who maintain a healthy weight for years on the same amount of food may slowly start to gain weight as their exercise level and metabolism decline as they reach their senior years.

An easy way to tell whether your dog is overweight is to run your hands along his sides. If you can easily feel his ribs, and there are no excess rolls around his neck, his weight is probably satisfactory. However, the only real way to determine if your dog is maintaining a healthy weight is to have him weighed by a veterinarian.

What to do

Before treating your dog for obesity, take him to the veterinarian, because obesity can be caused by conditions other than overeating. Hypothyroidism and diabetes mellitus, for example, are two common causes of obesity. However, if your dog’s obesity is determined (usually via a blood test) to be caused by excessive calorie intake, you and your vet can develop an effective treatment plan including reducing the quantity of food at mealtimes or adjusting your pup’s diet to make it higher in fiber and lower in fat. Like with a human weight loss program, moderate exercise should also be included.

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