Over the years, America has been dealing with the increasing problem of increasing weight. As technology advances, physical activity seems to take a backseat. The advent of computers, more office jobs, popularity of fast food and the ever-growing interest in television and spectator sports have given the population more reason to sit down and stay inside. Inactivity in our lives also has begun affecting our pets.
Obesity in dogs is a very serious matter and can lead to a number of compromising medical problems. Overweight dogs face a higher risk of complications during surgery, are more prone to injury and experience more stress on their heart, lungs, liver and kidneys. Arthritis can also be another painful accompaniment brought on by the additional poundage.
As an owner, you have accepted the responsibility of keeping your dog healthy and happy. Slipping your dog treats throughout the day may make them happy for the time being. However, it’ll add up in the long run, and your lethargic little lapdog will be struggling just to get onto the couch. Any owner can control their pet’s weight by realizing that food is not a substitute for attention or a cure for guilt. Be firm with your pets in this aspect, or they will challenge your authority on all fronts. Owners should also be willing to devote time to play or to enjoy a brisk jog with their dog. If this isn’t possible, supervise them while they get out and run around the yard.
You may be wondering what you can do if things have progressed to the point of obesity or are gradually on the way there. Here are 9 tips to keep in mind.
1) Never let your dog control how much or when they eat. Dogs are essentially scavengers; an empty food dish will often lead your dog to beg or browse in search of something else to eat, but it does not mean that they are starving.
2) If your dog doesn’t seem satisfied with the portions, don’t go loading it up with more kibble. Try adding some low calorie vegetables.
3) Keep appropriate snacks. You wouldn’t want your kids eating cookies and candies all day, so why should you feed your dog junk? If you do decide to give your dog a little snack to hold him over, take a little away from the next meal.
4) Provide adequate time for exercise. Long walks, play sessions and even energetic training sessions can help keep muscles in shape and bodies functioning. Interaction helps motivate your dog to exercise. Most likely, you would rather play a pick-up game of basketball with some friends rather than spending 20 minutes on a treadmill in an empty room.
5) Read labels. Keep an eye on the fat content in the food you give your dog. Fats are energy sources, but, if are left unexpended, will simply add unneeded calories. Fat content of dry dog food should range between 12 to 16%; if your dog is not as active, go with a dog food that has a lower percentage.
6) Pay attention to the dog supplements you use. Some vets, breeders and trainers recommend adding a tablespoon of vegetable oil to dry food to improve the skin and coat; this may add more unnecessary calories. Using a food with sufficient Omega fatty acids is better; you can also supplement with Vitamin E.
7) Weight gain may be breed-specific. Like some people, certain dogs have a tendency to put on excessive weight. Dogs in this group include Labs, Beagles, Basset Hounds, Dachshunds, Cocker Spaniels and Shelties. If you happen to own one of these breeds, you should keep a closer eye on diet and exercise.
8) Don’t place unjustified blame. Some dogs, once spayed or neutered, may gain weight due to a combination of hormone changes, lack of exercise and consumption of too many calories. The weight gain is a combination of all of these influencing factors and not simply because they have had a sterilization surgery.
9) No table scraps. Keep your dog away from the table during meals. Separate it from the kids while they are snacking and make sure that the kids know not to feed the dog without supervision.
With this information in mind, you can easily make adjustments to your dog’s exercise and diet.