The Right Food for Overweight Dogs

obesity in dogs

Who can resist those begging eyes? A few treats or food leftovers from the table won’t be so bad, will they? Although many dog owners know that excess weight harms their dog, they often act too late. Perhaps a few rolls of fat don’t alarm them or they simply don’t recognise the onset of obesity. However, you can easily recognise and successfully tackle weight gain in dogs with a few tricks and rules.

Excess weight in dogs is a health problem that needs to be taken seriously and should be tackled with a sensible diet plan and suitable exercise schedule. But exactly which measures help to combat excess fat and what does a change in diet to encourage weight loss entail?

What are the consequences of obesity for dogs?

Overweight dogs suffer more regularly from certain diseases than those with a normal weight. Obese dogs often have an above-average tendency to develop joint diseases, like arthrosis or osteoarthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. As well, they face an increased risk when under anaesthetic for surgical procedures. Obesity reduces dogs' enjoyment of life, because they are less agile and often develop aches and pains, and their life expectancy too. On average, obese dogs die a whole two years earlier than their slimmer counterparts.

What are the consequences of excess weight in dogs?

Overweight dogs suffer from certain diseases more commonly than canines of a normal weight. Hence, obese dogs often develop joint diseases like arthrosis or osteoarthritis, diabetes, circulatory and respiratory diseases at an above-average level. In addition, they are at increased risk under anaesthesia and during surgical procedures.

As well, excess weight decreases dogs’ enjoyment of life, because they are less agile and develop aches and pains more frequently. Not least, it often even reduces their life expectancy. On average, overweight dogs die two full years earlier than slim dogs.

What are the causes of excess weight?

Before you commence the fight against fat, you should first of all be aware of the causes of your dog’s excess weight, because the best diet is useless if the causes of obesity haven’t been tackled.

Since the factors that lead to the onset of obesity are very diverse, you should first get your dog examined by a vet. Your vet can say whether your dog’s excess weight is simply due to the wrong diet and not because of an underlying disease that requires special treatment.

A breed’s genetic disposition or old age, which has a negative impact on the metabolism, can trigger excess weight in dogs. Castration/neutering and hormonal diseases, such as hypothyroidism or kidney hyper function, are other possible causes. Diseases that lead to your dog being less mobile – these include, for instance, hip dysplasia, arthrosis, circulatory or respiratory diseases – can cause weight gain.

In addition, there are a range of external influences that encourage the onset of excess weight. In this case, the owner or the dog being handled incorrectly are mostly responsible for weight problems.

There is often a lack of time and therewith opportunities for the dog to get sufficient exercise. The wrong dietary habits or misplaced love for your dog that leads to it being ‘rewarded’ with high-calorie treats are some of the typical causes of excess weight in dogs.

You can find tips on the right diet for your dog in the zooplus magazine under the Dog Nutrition section.

Tired dog lying on floor
A lack of exercise is one of the typical causes of excess weight in dogs.

How you can recognise if your dog is carrying excess weight

There are many dog breeds whose physique often varies greatly depending on the breed. Hence, it isn’t at all easy to determine upon first glance whether a dog really is at its ideal weight.

Nevertheless, a rough rule of thumb helps to recognise a dog’s excess weight in good time: touching its ribs. If you can slightly feel the ribs beneath the abdominal wall when you gently place your hands there, your dog is generally of a normal weight. However, if you can only feel the ribs poorly or not at all when you apply pressure laterally to your dog’s chest, it has to lose weight.

If you can see the ribs with your naked eye, your dog is underweight. In this case, you should also ask your vet for advice.

Healthy weight loss – but how?

Once you have recognised that your dog is overweight, you have already taken the first step towards combatting the extra kilos. Talking to your vet is the second step. Together you can both clarify the causes of obesity, as well as devising a weight loss plan for your dog.

Healthy weight loss – but how?

Once you have recognised that your dog is overweight, you have already taken the first step towards combatting the extra kilos. Talking to your vet is the second step. Together you can both clarify the causes of obesity, as well as devising a weight loss plan for your dog.

Do not reduce portion sizes

By severely reducing portion sizes, you aren’t just reducing calories, but important vitamins and minerals too. This in turn can lead to deficiency symptoms for your dog.

In addition, your dog won’t suddenly get less hungry. This means that it will start to beg and its pleading eyes will make it difficult for you to remain firm and avoid treats.

Dog doing agility training
Sufficient exercise is key to your dog losing weight. Agility training is one option.

Importance of exercise in tackling excess weight in dogs

Hence, for weight loss you should avoid the usual dog food and gradually get your dog used to a special diet food. However, solely changing the food may not bring the desired success.

In addition, you have to ensure your dog gets enough exercise. A lot of training, sport and play doesn’t just help to suppress feelings of hunger, but increased energy consumption too. Excess fat will be broken down and the human-canine relationship will be strengthened by doing activities together.

Your dog’s weight loss doesn’t just have a positive effect on its health, but also on its enjoyment of life and your relationship with one another. In this sense, good luck with the weight loss!

Tip: Are you looking for alternatives to traditional walks? In the zooplus magazine, we outline numerous activities that you can try out with your dog.

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