Click here to learn more.
Vetstreet. All rights reserved.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
U.S. dogs are fatter than ever. In fact, the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) estimates that 53 percent of U.S. dogs are overweight or obese. Obese dogs are more likely to suffer from debilitating medical conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, heart and lung disease, high blood pressure, compromised immune function and even the development of some cancers. Obesity can be life-threatening and is a leading cause of preventable illness and death in dogs. It has been documented that dogs maintaining an ideal body weight live 15 percent longer, and with less disease, than overweight dogs.
It can be difficult for an owner to believe that an 80-pound dog is 20 pounds overweight. A recent study conducted by APOP reveals as a nation we are so accustomed to seeing fat dogs that we don’t seem to recognize it anymore. If you’re not sure, pat your hands along your dog’s sides from head to tail. In a healthy-weight dog, you should be able to just feel the ribs. Also, take a look at your dog from the side. Most dogs should have a slightly “tucked up” profile. If all you feel are fat pads on your dog’s sides, or if his side profile is more sausage-like than sleek, chances are your friend may need to shed a few.
The first thing you should do is get your vet involved. Take your dog for a checkup as there are underlying conditions that can contribute to obesity, including diabetes, Cushing’s disease and hypothyroidism. Have your veterinarian determine your dog’s current and ideal body weight and then tell you how many calories your dog can eat each day in order to reach that ideal weight. Your goal should be to work toward that ideal weight over a several-month period.
Dogs should not be fed “free choice” as they tend to eat when bored instead of when hungry — which contributes to ever-expanding canine waistlines. Dogs should be fed two to four times each day, and all food portions should be measured exactly with a standard measuring cup.
Dog food label recommendations must be used cautiously. These guidelines are generic and most likely represent overfeeding for many U.S. dogs. Dogs must be fed according to their ideal body weight — not their current weight if they are obese. If your dog is even mildly overweight, feeding according to the recommendations found on the food bag will result in continued weight gains.
Most regular dog foods are quite high in calories — usually between 450 and 550 calories per cup or can — making it very easy to unknowingly overfeed a dog and fail at weight-loss attempts. You must find out how many calories are in a cup or can of your dog’s food and feed it according to the number of calories he requires.
There is not one best diet for weight loss in dogs, and your vet can help determine what might work best for your dog. While weight loss can often be achieved by feeding less of a dog's regular food, some dogs feel more satisfied on higher-fiber or higher-protein foods.
Weight loss is often easier to achieve by adding canned food to your dog’s feeding regimen. In general, it has higher protein, lower carbohydrates and similar or fewer calories when compared to a similar-sized quantity of the same dry food.
Dogs should be given no more than 10 percent of their daily calories as treats. Treats are a huge source of “hidden” calories, and dogs are often grossly overfed because treat calories are not accounted for. If the calories per treat are not printed on the treat package, call the company and ask for this information.
This is an alarming treat statistic: The average premium pig ear has 230 calories and when given to a 40-pound dog is the same calorie punch as an average adult eating two double cheeseburgers as a treat in addition to their normal meals.
The best and most healthful treat choices are fresh fruits or vegetables such as carrots, cucumbers, green beans or apples.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Thank you for subscribing to Petwire. Look for the latest newsletter each Wednesday.
Kramer, a Goldendoodle, is finally back
home with his owner after disappearing
nearly two months ago.
Roses are red, violets are blue,
Valentine's Day is here and our cats and
dogs have some romantic poems for you.
With Westminster coming up, here’s our
expert list of everything you need to know
for you and your pup to follow…
One of the few breeds to originate in the
United States, the “tuxedoed gentleman”
tends to be happy and…
Vegas oddsmaker Johnny Avello made
his predictions for the annual dog show,
and the top contenders may surprise you.
Ahead of the Westminster Dog Show, the
American Kennel Club will host its
seventh annual Meet the Breeds event.
The Boerboel, a South African Mastiff, is a strong and territorial breed who is not suited to inexperienced dog owners.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.