“Ah look how cute it is…” is the typical response when people see a cute chubby little puppy. Yes, it may be the most common statement but it definitely isn’t the healthiest. Obesity is a far too common problem among canines. We believe dogs to be man’s best friend and we want to treat them as such and make them happy. The only problem is dogs don’t necessarily know what is best for them. As the owner you need to be conscious and thoughtful with the responsibilities that come with having a pet.
Obesity in dogs can lead to several major health issues including but not limited to diabetes, heart disease, and bone and joint disorders. There are numerous factors that are known causes for weight gain in your pet. The greatest causes for weight gain for your dog are the type of food he eats, the amount of exercise he performs, his age, and his medical history. All of these causes can easily be dealt with in order to maintain a healthy pet weight and live a long happy life.
How you feed your dog is the most preventable cause of weight gain. Like people, dogs need to maintain a nutritious diet to stay in fit conditions. The type of food you select for your dog is extremely dependent on all of the other factors that affect the weight of your dog. There are foods that are designed for all stages of a dog’s life from puppy to senior. Puppies have a higher energy level accompanied by a faster metabolism and their bodies are growing at a rapid rate while an older dog is reached his full size and his metabolism has slowed. With that being said puppies need food that contains higher amount of protein for this growth.
A dog’s level of activity changes greatly though out its life span. A young dog is inquisitive and can be extremely active. This high level of activity is known to decrease as the dog’s age increases. So with the decrease in activity the amount and type of food that your dog receives should also change. Another helpful is to keep your pet’s mind engaged and active with toys and daily exercise which will help keep the dog’s thoughts away from food and overeating. Another alternative is dog daycare several days a week. Not only would daycare be an added exercise activity but would also create a social outlet for interaction with other dogs and people.
The final key is to work closely with your veterinarian and know your pet. Several medical issues can be the factor that causes your dog to gain weight. Have your vet check for diseases such as hypothyroidism and Cushing’s syndrome. Both are internal causes for weight gain. I know you love your dog and want to do what is best for him in order for him to be with you for a very long time.