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Is your dog overweight? How to recognize signs and when to act

Is your dog overweight? How to recognize signs and when to act

Did you know that obesity in dogs is increasing? This poses a serious health risk to our canine friends. Here, our Zeeland vets list some signs your dog might be overweight and what you can do next. 

Is my dog overweight?

If you suspect your four-legged friend might be overweight, the first thing you'll want to do is schedule a checkup with your vet. Your veterinarian will weigh your dog, conduct a thorough examination to determine your pooch's general health and let you know if your dog is actually overweight based on their build and breed. 

Carrying excess weight can contribute to many serious, painful diseases and health conditions in dogs. This is why it's vital to ensure your dog maintains a healthy weight as they age. 

If you aren't sure whether your dog should see your vet, here are some signs that can indicate whether your dog is carrying too many extra pounds.  

Consider Your Dog's Fitness Level

Even walking relatively slowly, overweight dogs often pant. They may also walk slower or need to take more naps or breaks than before.

Feel For Your Pup's Ribs

Can you feel your pooch's ribs without a thick layer of fat over them? This is a good indication that your dog is a healthy weight. Your pup's chest should be wider than their abdomen, and you should be able to see a tuck-up from chest to stomach about where their waist should be (see illustration below).

Examine Your Pooch's Figure

If a dog is overweight, their waistline typically won't be visible and you will not be able to see a distinction between the chest and stomach when viewing them side-on. See the illustration below for a better understanding of how a healthy dog looks from the side.

Overweight dog chart, Zeeland vets

How can I help my dog lose weight?

Weight gain can be a symptom of a serious underlying illness, so if you think that your dog is overweight a trip to the vet is definitely called for. If your vet determines during a physical exam that your pup is overweight and there are no underlying illnesses causing the weight gain, they will recommend a diet and exercise plan to help get your pooch's weight back on track safely.

Here are a few things that your vet may recommend to help your four-legged friend shed those extra pounds.

Regular Exercise

Keep to a regular exercise schedule for your dog, including going for walks twice a day and playtime outside once a day. Playing fetch or frisbee can help you and your dog to form a closer bond as well as provide your pup with a fun way to burn a few extra calories.

Diet & Feeding

Your vet will be able to calculate just the right number of calories to feed your dog at each meal, and prescribe a low-calorie diet food to help your pup reach a healthier weight. Be sure your dog eats at the same time every day, and that you measure out the portions carefully based on the ideal weight for their breed (or size).

Yearly (or Twice-Yearly) Checkups

Even when you're sure that there is nothing wrong with your dog, routine wellness exams (physical checkups for your dog) are important. Annual or twice-yearly wellness exams give your vet the opportunity to monitor your pet's weight and spot the early signs of illness so that conditions can be treated before they become more serious.

If your dog begins following a weight loss plan, visit your vet for follow-up appointments so that your pet's progress can be monitored and dietary adjustments made if necessary

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding people or pets. Always follow your doctor's advice regarding asthma or other allergy symptoms. 

Do you suspect your dog may be overweight? Our vets at Zeeland Veterinary Service can perform a full physical exam, including a nutritional assessment. Contact us today to book an appointment.

Caring for Pets in Zeeland

Zeeland Veterinary Service is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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