While the majority of owners are aware that a dog being obese is unhealthy, few are aware if and when their own dog is overweight. According to pet nutrition experts James Well beloved, this is because mostdogs actually have a very narrow ideal weight range, so it is very easy fora dog to fall outside of this range. Just a few kilogrammes extra can be enough for a dog to be classified as overweight and, therefore, at risk of their health deteriorating.
Fortunately, while dogs can gain weight relatively easily, there is lots you can do to help your dog diet and return to a healthy size.
Know how much your dog should weigh
Before you can know if your dog is overweight, you must first know how much your dog should weigh. Most dogs have an ideal weight range of a few kilogrammes. There are plenty of charts online which give approximate weight ranges based on adult dogs according to breed and sex.
Start a dog food diet
Once you have established if your dog is overweight, work with your vet to implement a diet. In most cases, this will mean cutting out anything that isn’t part of their regular dog meal: treats; table scraps; and extra servings. Instead, only feed your dog their normal dog food according to the recommended daily servings which can be found on most dog food packaging.
Provide consistent exercise
Like with humans, no diet is effective without regular exercise. Dogs need at least two walks of 30 minutes every day, but some breeds, like Border Collies or German Shepherds, need much longer walks.
In addition to walks, play with your dog. Don’t force them to play if they don’t want to, but the extra exercise will help them lose weight faster while giving you both valuable bonding time.
Inspect your dog’s weight regularly
Make a habit of weighing your dog regularly and start a diary. Measure your dog’s weight once a month and compare it against previous months to record if they are gaining, losing, or maintaining weight. This will enable you to adjust their diet and exercise accordingly.
If you don’t have any scales at home, you can do a visual check. If you can see your dog’s ribs and spine without touching them, they are too thin. If you cannot see the ribs and spine, but can feel them easily when touching them, then your dog is likely at their ideal weight. If you struggle to feel their bones through layers of fat and muscle, they are probably overweight.
Either way, book regular appointments with your vet (at least two per year) for a general health check-up.
Keep age and size in mind
Finally, consider your dog’s age and size. Puppies, junior dogs, adult dogs, and senior dogs all require different levels of nutrition. Don’t assume food for an adult, medium-sized dog is suitable for all dogs. Instead, buy age and size-appropriate food and always serve meals according to the recommended daily amount on the packaging.
While this advice will apply to most dogs, it is always worth noting that every dog is different. Some dogs might weight more than others but actually be healthy, while others might be within the average healthy range for their breed, but still be considered over or underweight. If in doubt, go and see your vet for more information and to create a diet and exercise plan more suitable for your dog.