October is Walk Your Dog Month and Obesity Awareness Month
This month is dedicated to walking your dog and learning about dog obesity; in fact, National Walk Your Dog Week kicked off Oct 1, and Dog Obesity Awareness Day is usually around the second weekend of the month.
Here at Hometown Veterinary Hospital, one of Springfield's best animal hospitals, we feel strongly that pet owners need to stay on top of canine weight issues to protect the health of our dogs.
We all have the best intentions to maintain our dog’s health. But then we get busy, or it’s cold or wet (or both) outside, and there are other things to do. We let the dog out into the backyard to to do his business, and bring him back in. He’s fine, we think.
Not really. Dogs need daily exercise, just as humans do. Overweight dogs can develop high blood pressure, lose muscle tone or become lethargic. Dogs who are naturally energetic can become highly destructive when they don’t get enough exercise – chewing furniture or your personal items, for example. Leave them alone in the yard, and they may dig or chew things out there.
Just a 30 minute walk a day, three times a week, can reduce your dog’s weight by 15%, while increasing her sense of well-being. And if she likes to run and play more than you do, find a dog park where she can move about freely at his own pace.
Too Many Fat Dogs!
It’s said that obesity is the most common preventable disease in dogs. Right now, close to 30% of our dogs are obese, with nearly 50% of older dogs (5-11 years) showing excess weight. (Simply put, they’re too fat!)
Not only can obesity make your dog sluggish, it can shorten her lifespan. A research study done on Labrador retrievers found that even moderately Labs could die two years sooner than Labs at optimum weight or less.
Obese dogs are at greater risk for all types of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. The extra weight can lead to osteoarthritis, urinary bladder stones, and complications during procedures done under anesthesia.
It is possible that obesity may be an indicator of hypothyroidism or Cushing’s disease; your veterinarian will this discuss this with you during your appointment.
How Can I Tell If My Dog Is Obese?
The easiest thing to do at home is to check his ribs—you should be able to feel some bones without having to press deeply. If he is so padded that you can barely find the ribs under the fat, he needs to lose weight. Your vet will give you an estimated ideal body weight to aim for, and will help your monitor your dog’s progress.
The vet will also recommend scientifically formulated nutritional products that will aid healthy and safe weight reduction. Just cutting back how much you feed a dog is not a good option ---lack of enough nutrients will cause him to become malnourished.
Want to give in to the urge to slip him a treat? Try fresh or frozen green beans, broccoli or cauliflower, or air-popped popcorn, if your vet approves. You may be surprised at how much your dog enjoys these natural and healthful treats.
So take your dog for a daily walk! He’ll feel better and stay healthier – and as a bonus, so will you!
And please feel free to come by and weigh your pet on our scale in our Springfield veterinary hospital lobby. There is no charge to do this, and we'll record the weight in our records.
Have a question? Get in touch.