Did you know that more than 40% of dogs in Australia are overweight or obese? That is almost half the population of dogs in Australia. In most of these cases there is no medical reason behind this, it is purely excess of calories. We always recommend getting your pet checked by a veterinarian if they are overweight, to ensure there isn’t an underlying condition such as thyroid or a metabolic disorder, especially if your pet is showing signs such as increase in water intake, or appetite, or any changes to the coat.
n simple terms, if your pet is overweight it is taking in more calories than it needs. Except in very few medical cases, excessive weight is a direct result of consuming unnecessary amounts of food. There are four typical scenarios that we as veterinarians see when presented with a dog that is overweight.
DOG ONE: The grazer “ But she hardly eats a thing.”
In this scenario, the dog likely has food available all day, and grazes little at a time, or is fed a number of treats as its owners eat during the day (a bit of toast with breakfast, some biscuits at morning tea etc). When their dinner comes, they aren’t that hungry (as they have been eating all day) and they pick at their food, usually taking the most delicious (and high calorie) parts and leaving the rest. Although they seem to be eating only a little, over the entire 24-hour period the calorie intake is excessive, leading to a gain in weight.
DOG TWO: The demander “She won’t be quiet until we give her a treat”. What has happened here is that somewhere in its life, the dog has learnt the louder and more annoying it is, the more likely its owner is to fuss about it and give it a treat to keep them quiet. The more it is rewarded for this behaviour (by getting treats), the more likely it is continue this behaviour in the future. By getting lots of treats, the result is an excess of calories, which can result in obesity
DOG THREE: The good dog. “But he is such a good dog, he deserves some treats” This dog likely became overweight because the owner likes to show their affection for their pet through food. We do understand that you like to show your pet affection with treats, but this can lead to excessive calories, especially if multiple family owners are giving treats. As owners we should try to show affection to our pets by playing a game, going for a walk, petting them, as well as the occasional treat.
DOG FOUR: The fussy dog. “But she only eats human food!”
This is the case of the dog training the human to feed it delicious foods like chicken, ice cream, cookies etc. Although chicken and some human foods are okay in small amounts, this dog has been given a choice of what to eat, and has chosen certain people food. If given a choice a child would usually take cake and chocolate over vegetables, and their health would suffer. It is the same with dogs, if they are given the choice they will eat the more delicious food, which isn’t nutritionally balanced, and as a result the pet get sick and obese. The solution in this case is training your dog to eat the food you choose, not that they choose.
How do I know if my dog is overweight?
Click here to follow the link to the charts for ideal weight for dogs. They should have a tucked or waist present, and their ribs should be easily felt, but not seen. If you are unsure, one of our vets can advise you on your pets body condition score.
If you think you dog fits into one of these categories and you need some advice on weight loss options, don’t hesitate to call us on 4153 1399 and make a weight loss appointment with a vet.