60% or more of dogs that veterinarians see in the US are overweight. Of that 60%, half of those are considered obese. Excessive weight in dogs can lead to many health problems. Joint disease, metabolic issues as well as inflammation are among the issues that can arise in an overweight dog. Obese dogs normally will live shorter lives than their less overweight peers.

How overweight your dog is can depend on a few things, such as diet and breed type.  Age of your dog can also play a role; the older the dog gets the less active they are, which means the more likely they are to put on weight.  Neutering and spaying your dog can cause weight gain. This is due in part to the fact that sex hormones can influence appetite, exercise, and lean body mass.

Overfeeding and lack of exercise are the main culprits in having an overweight dog. Exercise is always a good idea, but your dog’s diet is the main thing to focus on. If your dog is overweight, measuring out exactly how much food and controlling portion sizes are key to getting your dog to lose weight. Feeding your dog smaller more frequent meals instead of one large meal burns more calories. Cutting back on the treats and table scraps can also be helpful, as they can be calorie dense for your dog.

After you have consulted with your veterinarian and have decided that your dog needs to lose weight, you should find your dog’s ideal weight for their breed and age. With the help of your vet, you should be able to determine how many calories a day your dog needs. You can figure it out as well using the calculation 70 x (Ideal Body Weight in kg)^0.75. Another way is to simply cut their daily calories by a third. When calculating your dogs’ calories, make sure you are not just factoring in their food, but the treats they have throughout the day or the left overs they may get. Alternatively, you can give your dog the same amount of food but something that has higher amounts of fiber. If you do this you will need to be able to let your dog out more times a day than usual.

In addition to adjusting your dog’s diet, you should slowly but surely plan more activity for your dog. Just taking your dog out to pee is normally not enough to count as exercise. Think about the possibility of having several walks a day set aside for your dog just for them to get out and exercise. It is good to give your dog about an hours’ worth of exercise a day.  If you need help with this, consider hiring a professional dog walking service, such as Lucy’s Pet Care.

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