Updated: Oct 24
Many dog lovers don't even realize that their beloved best friend is overweight, yet, according to the American Kennel Club, 56% of dogs are either overweight or obese. Obese dogs live 2 1/2 years LESS than dogs in proper weight.
Why does it matter? "Obesity is linked to a whole raft of health problems including arthritis, chronic kidney disease, bladder/urinary tract disease, liver disease, low thyroid hormone production, diabetes, heart failure, high blood pressure, and cancer.", says Dr. Ernie Ward, DVM, CVFT, and founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP). Overweight or obese dogs also put extra stress on knees and hips.
Pretty scary stuff, and totally preventable!
This unhealthy, heartbreaking situation is caused by what the majority of dog owners feed their dogs: dry or canned dog food and endless treats containing a huge proportion of cheap carbohydrates that dogs can't digest, and don't need.
In fact, it's killing them.
How do you determine if your dog is in a healthy, long-lived weight? Actually, it's pretty easy: place your hands on your dog's sides, and feel for ribs. You should easily feel, but not see, each rib under a layer of flesh. You should also feel hip bones, the two bones at the base of your dog's tail.
Viewed from the top, your dog should have a visible waistline, yes! All dogs should have a waistline, including Labs, and Goldens, big, small, fluffy, or flat-coated, and every other purebred or mixed breed dog.
Viewed from the side, your dog's belly should be "tucked up", not hanging down.
Your dog should not have rolls of fat anywhere, not his/her neck, shoulders, behind front legs, on their waist, or anywhere else.
If you have determined that your best buddy needs to take off a few pounds, it's actually easier for your dog than it is for you.
Feed a fresh diet comprised of mostly meat, no potatoes, pasta, corn, or other starches. Don't feed your dog kibble or canned food - it makes the problem worse, and even feeding less of it doesn't work, or solve the health problems caused by all processed dog "foods".
Feed the correct amount of a fresh diet: start with 2% of your dog's IDEAL body weight per day, split into two meals. For example, if your dog should weigh 25 pounds, your dog should be fed 1/2 pound of fresh food per day, making small adjustments up or down after a couple of weeks. Tiny dogs sometimes need a bit more than 2% of their ideal weight, try 3-4% to start with. If your dog seems hungry, add low sodium canned or cooked green beans to meals.
Exercise is important, but don't ever force an overweight or obese dog to exercise! Being just a little overweight can stress joints and the heart. The most effective way to get those pounds off is to start with proper feeding. As a dog loses weight, he/she will naturally become more active. Our advice: wait until your dog is in proper weight before doing long hikes, swims, or walks.
Limit or eliminate treats. Dogs don't need treats! A few starchy treats every day add up and can cause unnecessary weight issues. If you must give treats to your dog, use small amounts of raw, cut-up non-starchy, non-gassy vegetables or fruits: green beans, red bell pepper, cucumbers, celery, apples, blueberries, pears.
We all adore our dogs, and we want them to be healthy and active, and live a long life, with no suffering. Taking an honest look at your dog's weight, and taking necessary steps to insure that his/her weight remains healthy, is a giant step.
If you need help in determining whether your dog is in optimal, healthy weight, please feel free to get in touch. We're happy help.
Special thanks to Lisa, Mowgli's foster mom, for not only demonstrating the positive effect Napa Fresh has had on her own dogs, but for the photos of this amazing transformation.