Helping Prevent and Treat Canine Obesity

Obesity is No Laughing Matter

Happy New Year!  Tradition which dates back to 153 B.C. dictates every 365 days or so you should try to kick bad habits and start life anew!  What kind of resolution did you make this year?  Chances are, since it is already January 3rd most people have already failed at what they wished to accomplish.

I kicked the habit of once a year commitments many years ago, however I still find myself pining at the idea every new year’s eve.  The idea is simple and magical; it’s the follow through that takes determination and willpower!

At the dawn of this new year, I would like you to consider the impacts of obesity on your furry friend.  Obesity is an epidemic not only with humans in our country, but also in our pets.  We believe that over indulgence is a form of love and so we not only allow but sometimes encourage over indulgence in our animals.

Extra pounds place demands on virtually all organs of the body not only in ourselves, but also on our pets.   Overload of the organs often leads to disease and death.  Specifically obesity can lead to:

  • Diabetes

    Fat Could Be Killing Your Dog

  • Damage to joints, bones and ligaments (especially in large dogs)
  • Heart disease
  • Increased blood pressure (yes dogs too, can suffer from high blood pressure)
  • Decreased liver function
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Decreased stamina
  • Heat intolerance
  • Increased anesthesia risk
  • Digestive disorders
  • Immune dysfunction
  • Skin hair and coat problems
  • Increased risk of cancer
  • Decreased quality and length of life

I want my best friend to be around as long as possible.  I want his life to be full of fun and excitement.  I do not want to be administering shots of insulin or drugs that can be avoided or be shortening his life with each meal and treat.  Over indulgence of food has a price and I am not willing to pay with the life of my friend.

Prevention

Feeding:

  • A normal healthy dog is always hungry!  This is how the wild dog adapted and survived, but it does not mean your dog is starving.  Dogs have different nutritional needs and amounts throughout their life time.  Younger dogs and active working dogs require more calories and protein than couch potato and older dogs.
  • The recommendations on the back of the bag of dog food is prepared for an intact, male working dog.  Most of us do not have dogs that are intact (hopefully) and certainly do not have active field trial, or police working dogs.  So we can cut down on the amount that we use and the bag recommends.
  • Meal feeding is another easy way to reduce intake.  Just like we might over indulge if we take the whole bag of chips in to snack on in front of the TV because we are bored, your dog probably over indulges if food is left out all day.

Exercise:

  • Provide exercise!  Exercise has benefits for his heart, and muscles and also for his mind!

Regulate His Weight:

  • Pop into the vet for a quick hello and a weight check!  This is a quick and easy way to make vet visits less traumatic and to maintain a healthy weight!

Limit or Eliminate Treats:

  • I believe in using treats to my advantage while training, however I make adjustments to my dog’s meal at mealtime if we have had a big training day by decreasing the amount of food I give.

Beginning a Weight Loss Program

If your dog is already over weight it is time to consider a weight loss program here are the steps you need to become successful.

Visit Your Vet:

  • Certain medical conditions can cause weight gain in dogs, and as with humans a physician should evaluate your dog prior to beginning an exercise regimen.  Your vet can help you determine a realistic weight goal and timeline.
  • We normally recommended starting by measuring the amount the dog was currently giving and decreasing by ¼.  We also recommended giving fresh or frozen green beans (not canned because there is too much salt) as a filler to help your dog feel full.

Monitor Progress:

  • Make a chart and monitor your successes!

I have often found it difficult to maintain my own success when it comes to my relationship with food (although I am proud to announce I am currently training for a half marathon).  I wish someone would feed me in small doses and control my access to food!  But, I can control what my dog eats, and his ability and access to exercise.  I think of it as a gift I can give to him and myself, the gift of a long quality life spent together!

So here is my challenge to you for the new year to come, pick something simple about life with your dog and change it for the better.  Spend more time together, or vow to drop some weight and exercise together!

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Comments

  1. Amy Johnson says:

    Thanks for the information. My golden is fat and is always hungry. I didn’t know that was a sign of a healthy dog. I find it ridiculous he is always begging for more food all the time after being fed. I may need some more info as to why that is?

    Thanks,
    Amy Johnson

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Some dogs are predisposed to eating more and gaining weight, as are some breeds; i.e. Goldens, Labs, Beagles, Cockers. But, mostly they enjoy eating too and are often bored. Genetically the need and desire to eat helped keep them alive when they were wild. Wolves will eat when given the opportunity, because they are never sure when the next meal will happen by, our dogs still have these tendencies, although they are fed regularly!

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  2. 23502 Dog Training says:

    I’m glad i was able to find your blog. There’s a lot of great information here that I find very interesting. I have a puppy also and reading your blog will help me a lot understanding their behavior. Like he is always hungry and loves to eat anything and we know he’s starting to gain weight so I realized i need to check on eating habit.

    [Reply]

  3. Lucille3 says:

    Hello Chet:

    Thank you for your web site. It is very educational. I already applied two or three suggestions and they work. My neighbor will enjoy your site also. A good resolution for the new year is to follow your advice.

    Success and happiness with your dog(s) in the coming year.

    Lucille3

    [Reply]

  4. pete camacho says:

    I had my dog neuter about two years ago,and he has gian weight like carry.He is five years old big and fat.Ifeed him every moring and half in the after noon.Which is 18.5oz in the moring and half of that at night.He weights about 100 pounds. and his hight is 21″tall and 20″long, oh by the way ,its dry food that he eats.Please help me bring his weight down.thank you pete.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Measure what you are feeding and cut back by 1/4 at first. Supplement with fresh or frozen green beans, not canned as they have too much salt.

    Green beans are a good filler because they are low in sugar, unlike carrots! So cut back by 1/4 first and then add the green beans. Also pay attention to any treats you are giving!

    Good luck and if you have any other concerns call your vet! I am sure he/she would be happy to give you more specific pointers regarding your dog since he/she knows him!

    [Reply]

  5. mary says:

    Hi Chet,

    I have a female chihuahua about 2-3 years old. She loves to eat!Presently, she weighs just over seven pounds, she was nine pounds.
    Right now, we are maintaining at seven pounds, she should be five pounds according to vet. Vet told me to give her 1/4 cup dry dog food twice a day. I am doing that. My question is: How long will it take for her to get down to five pounds? She has reached a plateau it seems.

    Thanks for your advice,
    Mary

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    you can cut back on her food a bit and add fresh or frozen green beans to achieve her goal. Do not give her canned green beans because there is too much salt!! And, don’t give her corn or carrots because they are loaded with sugar! Add lots of exercise and she should get there in a few months!

    [Reply]

  6. Erma says:

    Can feeding carrots and apple harm our little lhapso apso? Loves them as a treat!

    [Reply]

  7. Sandra says:

    Hi Chet,

    Great blog! I adopted a cockapoo and he was a little overweight when I got him 3 – 5 pounds. I had a neighbor who told me about the green bean trick and it works. In 5 months he has lost 2 of those 3-5 pounds and I am using your training techniques which mean several treats a day. I make sure that food is not always the treat, sometimes it is just exaggerated petting and praise and that works as well. He gets 2/3 beans and 1/3 food and has no signs of that not being good enough!

    [Reply]

  8. Joanne says:

    Be aware that overweight in dogs is not always due to overindulging. We had a Rottie/Blue Healer cross who developed a thyroid condition, which resulted in weight gain. We knew that we were feeding her properly and that she was getting proper exercise; however, she still gained weight. Someone suggested that we get her thyroid checked and, upon receiving the resulte, we discovered that her thyroid problem was causing weight gain. This was rectified with a treatment plan from the vet. Four years later, my brother in law had the same thing happen with his Siberian Husky, who is an extremely active dog. There was no explanation for the weight gain and the vet didn’t seem to want to consider that the thyroid would be the cause. He went to another vet to have his dog tested. The new vet discovered that his suspicions were correct all along and had those findings sent to the original vet. His dog does have a thyroid problem and, now that she has the proper treatment plan, she’s back to her ideal weight again. Nothing else was altered in diet or exercise. If you are certain that you are feeding and exercising your dog according to their needs and there is still a weight issue, you may want to get their thyroid checked. It cost us roughly $65, which was a small price to pay. Dogs aren’t any happier about carrying around extra weight than you or I would be. They want to have energy, stamina, and quality of life.

    [Reply]

  9. Aruna says:

    very informative, thx. I have put your name in Yahoo answers in an answer.

    [Reply]

  10. Kaitlyn says:

    I actually have a hard time getting my golden to eat. Shes 6 months old, happy healthy and very active. which is why it surprises me. after a long walk or rigorous training session she inst hungry. she looks at her food and walks away. I try to get good grade food for her. I guess I won’t have to worry about her getting fat.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    She will eat when she is hungry! Dogs that are indifferent to their food keep from having obesity related problems! Good for her! I had a dog like this once and he developed just fine!

    [Reply]

    Kaitlyn Reply:

    Thank you! That’s good know 🙂 I just want what’s best for my dog.

    [Reply]

  11. Tina says:

    This is a big problem I have had for months now and I don’t know how to
    get Sparky back to his right weight .he weighed 8 Lbs and now he weighs 12 Lbs. he is a min pin and almost 2 yrs i guess now.
    i am so worried becaue if I don’t feed him he eats anything he can get
    like blankets and whatever~~and i mean band-aids and baggie ties ~~
    he runs and you can’t catch him a lot of the time until he has swallowed it..
    i have not had time to write since before thansgiving, i have had so
    much company.i will start by what you suggested tonight and if there is anything else i can do ,please send me help !!!!
    thanks
    Tina

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Tina,

    You can add as much FRESH or FROZEN green beans as he wants to eat so he doesn’t feel like he is starving! No canned green beans as there is way too much salt for his kidneys and canned aren’t as filling. No carrots either because for dog they are very high in sugar. But green beans are great fiber and very filling. Just cut back by 1/4 and get out and exercise him!!

    [Reply]

  12. Valentina Byron says:

    I have a dash hound she is 12yrs old, and was supposed to be a minature was has face and legs of a minature and body of a standard or slightly shorter, she is not so much overweight but chest is very large and only an inch or so off the ground I don”t seem to be able to make her loose anymore weight under 8KL I will try peas and more excercise and see if that makes any difference. Thank you for your advice. Valentina

    [Reply]

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    [Reply]

  14. Sharon Brower says:

    Thank you for the info about green beans. So many recommend carrots for treats but what you said is valid. I am going to add the beans to my terriers diet. Shae likes anything that I eat and thinks salad vegetables are the best. I try to only treat her with small pieces of meat and vegetables – no carbs. She put on the extra weight after being spayed.

    [Reply]

  15. Tina Morgan says:

    How do you know which dry dog food is best for a beagle mix to keep her full but not gain weight, be nutritious, without added items that aren’t good for our pets. Do you rate brand’s of dog food, what kind brand do you feed your dogs? I am sure many need help with this. Thank you

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I would look into a weight control food that will have more filler, to help her feel full and less protein and fat

    [Reply]

  16. Daniel says:

    What if your dog is a little heavy but they are only eating 1/4 cup a day? Lol
    I know my dog (10lbs deer head chihuahua) has a belly on her and I believe it’s due to bloating with dry kibble (that’s a diff story)
    But I believe she is a mix breed (I just don’t know with what) and she has a really big rib cage for a little dog.
    When I give her less food and make sure to exercise she loses muscle.
    When I give her the same amount of food and lots of exercise she gains weight.
    I’m starting to wonder if she’s just a stocky dog or if since she’s 9 years old and spayed if she won’t ever lose the weight.
    My vet is no help.
    It would be so much easier if I can show pics of her at 12lbs looking stocky with a belly and pics of her at 10lbs looking hungry with a belly lol it would be so much easier lol

    [Reply]

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