Did you know that almost half of pets in South Africa are overweight or obese? Many of us don’t realize that our dog is overweight, because the weight gain often takes place gradually over time and is easy to overlook. Even though you may think cuddly is cute, just a few extra kilo's can really add up to some serious health issues.
Why being overweight matters
Even if you’ve noticed your dog is carrying a few extra kilo's, you may not be aware how much it can affect his health. Being as little as 20% overweight can greatly increase the risk of your dog developing serious health conditions such as diabetes mellitus, osteoarthritis, urinary stones or heart disease.
Plus, excess weight can not only have a negative impact on your dog’s general wellbeing, happiness and overall quality of life, it can also significantly shorten his life expectancy compared to a healthy-weight pet.
Your dog may look just fine to you, but ideal weight varies by size and breed. Your veterinarian will be able to tell you what your dog’s ideal weight is. Between check-ups, you can still assess if your dog is maintaining a healthy weight. Place your hand on his side, and if his ribs are hard to feel or even impossible to feel, he’s likely overweight.
Here are some other signs of obesity you may notice:
- Loss of an obvious waist
- Collar needs loosening
- Difficulty in walking
- Slow movement
- Shortness of breath
- Fat roll around tail base
- Sleeping more than usual
Older dogs are less active, have less energy, and require fewer calories, which is why nutrition formulated for his age is vital to his weight and overall health.
Some dog breeds are more likely to gain weight
Whilst responsible, clinical studies have shown that the basic metabolism of neutered dogs is lower, and they require few calories
Very occasionally weight gain is associated with a medical disorder that may require specific treatment
Dogs with unlimited access to food understandably eat more than they need — this includes table scraps from family members
Many commercial foods are loaded with salt and fat, which can improve taste but make your dog want to gorge
Choosing the right dog food for weight loss
The food your dog eats directly affects his overall health and well-being. Balanced nutrition is an essential part of an active, healthy lifestyle. Eating too much dog food, snacks or people food can increase weight gain.
Proper nutrition plays a very important role in treating an overweight dog. Ask your vet about Hill’s Metabolic foods which have helped thousands of dogs in South Africa and around the world to lose weight and maintain a healthy & active life. Visit www.petslimmer.co.za for more information on pet obesity and find a vet offering the Hill's Pet Slimmer Programme near you.