Fat Dogs

October 19, 2014 | By | Reply More

dog-bagHaving worked in a local shelter for several years, I’ve seen my share of  animal abuse.  Actually, I think “abuse” is a strong word.  And since most people do care about their pets, often times it is due to ignorance, and not meanness.   So perhaps “mishandling” or “neglect” is more to the point here.  So, for the purpose of this discussion, you will not see the word “abuse” at all.   But you will see the word “obese” because the subject here is about fat dogs and fat cats.  How and Why?   Since they can’t open the refrigerator door by themselves, or order a pepperoni pizza… how is this happening?  Who is aiding and abetting?

Seeing a fat dog or cat struggle to get up or lay down, to run or even walk or breathe, is a very disturbing sight.  Their quality of life can never be what it should.  Their health risks are higher (diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, lung disorders, high blood pressure, cancer), and we could be shortening their already short lives by another two to three years.  So again…why?

Here are a few thoughts.  Some dogs gobble up their food as if they were starving.  The owner in turn, might believe that the dog is still hungry, and give him more to eat.  When you are living with an animal day after day, you may not be aware of the changes in their stature.   As many as half of all dogs in the U.S. are overweight.  In a recent study reported by The Whole Dog Journal “veterinarians considered 47 percent of their patients to be overweight, yet only 17 percent of the owners agreed.”   Many people with a fat pet don’t even know their pet is fat!

For most overweight dogs, the real culprit is a combination of free-feeding, boredom and, not enough stimulation.  So the dog is not not necessarily hungry, just bored.  Feeding time might be the only stimulating part of their day.  A lot of dog owners will  feed their dogs more food to make up for not spending enough time with them.  They may give them biscuits, chews and treats to assuage their guilt.

How about a walk or a hike instead of a back-yard potty break?   A tired dog will come home and curl up by the family and dream about his wonderful day.  A bored dog will eat and keep looking for more food to eat since there’s nothing else to do.  Some food for thought…

Play: hide & seek, fetch, tug (with rules!), “find it” games

Walk: let them sniff and explore til’ their heart’s content (without pulling you, of course)

Train: teach them to work for their meals.  Food lasts longer – more satisfying

Exercise: hiking, running, swimming… work up to it.  Don’t  stress your over-weight dog

Sports: competitive sports like agility, Flyball, Nosework, great alternatives to just lying around

Puzzle Toys: stuff their dinner in a Kong, or hide it in a puzzle toy.  …and let the games begin!

For successful weight loss, choose a quality dog food with above-average protein, below-average fat, below-average calories.  A higher protein content helps a dog feel more satisfied longer.  Weight loss is often easier to achieve by adding canned food to your dog’s dry kibble.   The Whole Dog Journal is a great resource for your dog’s nutritional needs if you’d like more information.

Lean dogs live longer, healthier, happier lives than those who are overweight.

Enough said.

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Category: All Posts, Canine Health, Dog Training Tips, General Interest

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