While we can all agree that there is nothing cuter than a chubby-bellied little pup, a whopping 95% of dog owners don’t realize that their pet is dangerously over the limit on weight. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) even has a name for this – “the fat pet gap”. While it’s hard to blame dog owners for not realizing that their pooch should lose a few pounds, it is every dog owner’s responsibility to take the best care of their dog – and this includes meeting all of their health and well-being needs – including their weight.
According to a recent study by the APOP, as much as 53% of America’s beloved pets are overweight. And this isn’t just an American issue – with obesity rates for dogs around the world coming in at around 40%, and unfortunately, these numbers are climbing each year. If we really understand how detrimental unhealthy weight and obesity are to our beloved dog’s health and quality of life, we can start to be more proactive about doing our part as dog owners to ensure our puppies live as long and healthy of a life as possible.
So why is weight so important to our four-legged friends? Much like their human counterparts, being overweight can introduce or aggravate a myriad of health issues – Type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, orthopedic issues, skin diseases, heart disease, and respiratory issues. Even more alarming is that an overweight dog can have a decreased life expectancy of 2 ½ years.
It may not be obvious to you that your dog is struggling from weight-related issues because he is overweight, so it makes sense to talk to your vet to identify any weight concerns as early as possible. You can even check your favorite dog food manufacturer’s website – they often provide a visual guide to help make it ways for you to assess your dog.
If you have confirmed that your dog could benefit from shedding some of those extra pounds, there are easy steps you can take every day – from measuring their food portions (much like a human might keep a food diary of what they consume to help manage their own weight), to establishing a set eating schedule – and implementing a more regular exercise routine for your pooch. The great news is both you AND your dog can benefit from those extra walks and cardio! So consider digging a little deeper into your pup’s diet and chat with your vet if you notice any red flags, isn’t it time you start taking your dog’s health as seriously as your own?