Click here to learn more.
Vetstreet. All rights reserved.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
Calories in versus calories out. It's pretty basic stuff, really.
Of course, the equation gets a bit complicated when your plump pet lives to beg for treats. Add to that the aches and chronic health conditions of an aging dog, and the problem becomes even trickier to solve.
Finding the right solution, in conjunction with your veterinarian, can potentially add quality years to your dog’s life. But what is that solution? What can you do when your
senior pup is becoming a chunky monkey?
Vetstreet looks at some of the ways that veterinarians who work with senior dogs can address an older pet's portly physique, taking his
aches and pains into account.
“Obesity has definitely increased — in people and in pets,” says Dr. Bernadine Cruz, DVM, an associate veterinarian at the Laguna Hills Animal Hospital. “Back in 1960, about 6 to 12 percent of
dogs were considered to be overweight or obese. In 2010, the last time it was really checked, 25 to 40 percent of pets were overweight or obese.” According to the
Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, those figures have since jumped to 53 percent for dogs and 55 percent for
One reason there are so many chubby canines: Not every
owner realizes that their dog is overweight. According to Dr. Cruz, this is in part because, just like with people, pups usually gain the weight slowly, making it more difficult to notice if your pooch has developed a paunch.
To do a quick check yourself, Dr. Cruz suggests looking at your standing dog from above. “There should be a waistline, right after the rib cage,” Dr. Cruz says. “Rub your hands [gently] along the side of the rib cage. With a little bit of pressure — and those are the operative words — you should be able to feel the ribs.” If you can’t, your dog is likely overweight.
Of course, to properly diagnose and treat your pet, you need to make an appointment to see your veterinarian.
Seniors should have two wellness visits per year, since, at that age, if something goes wrong, it can go downhill very quickly, Dr. Cruz notes. Plus, if your dog is overweight, your vet can determine if there are underlying medical causes, such as metabolic issues or reactions to any medications that your canine takes.
Most vets will check your dog’s weight, assigning it a
body condition score on a scale of one to nine (although some vets use a one-to-five scale). “One is the bag of bones that you don’t want to see, and nine is the swollen balloon, with the little paws sticking out,” Dr. Cruz says. If your dog’s number is five or higher, he could benefit from losing some weight.
Many health problems that senior pets face are often caused or worsened by added pounds. For example, overweight dogs are more likely to have
arthritis, and extra weight only increases the pressure on the joints. Fat also releases
pro-inflammatory chemicals into your canine’s body.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Get all the best pet news and information sent right to your inbox!
Thank you for subscribing!
Two Humboldt penguins born at the
U.K.’s Cotswold Wildlife Park are being
raised by their dad after their mom died.
Does your kitty ever take kibble away
from his dish and munch on it in another
spot? Here's what's going on.
We’re clearing up popular misconceptions
about health, anesthesia, vet checkups and
more when it comes to older…
A people-loving dog who hails from Italy,
the Bracco Italiano is usually happiest
when he's with his family or out…
Parasites are no fun for dogs. Learn how
to protect your canine from heartworms,
hookworms, whipworms and more.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
Visit HealthyPet magazine for interviews with pet-loving celebrities, health advice from our experts, training tips and…
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.