How to fight fat with your dog

Fat is a nasty thing. It is something that creeps up on you gradually, and oftentimes you only start worrying when it’s too late. The longer you wait to do something about it, the harder it gets. Unfortunately the same is true for our pets.

Fast fat

Obesity in pets is rising at an alarming rate. A little fatty in the house might be adorable, but just like with humans, before you know it you will be dealing with medical problems – possibly even risking your furry friend’s lifespan getting shorter.

Why do animals get fat? As with humans, it’s a simple case of input vs output. Your dog is not burning the energy he is consuming – either because he is eating too much, not getting enough exercise or a combination of the two. Your first step in preventing the kilos from piling on is feeding correctly. Most pet foods will come with instructions. These are carefully worked out and the amount of food indicated on the package should provide your dog with the nutrition he needs.This is a good point to start from, and you can adjust this amount to suit your dog. Remember that these amounts are only a guideline as each dog is an individual, and you should take his current body condition in consideration. Ask your vet if you are unsure.

Once you have determined how much food your dog should get, you should divide this into regular mealtimes, for example twice a day. Never keep your dog’s food bowl topped up and available to him all day – your dog will not be able to determine when he’s had enough. Some breeds are more food-motivated than others, and given the opportunity, will eat much more than what is good for them!

Should I sterilise?

It is often said that sterilisation causes our pets to gain weight. This is not entirely true. Your pet can gain weight after getting spayed or neutered; however, it is not the process itself that causes it. Your pet’s metabolic rate might slow down after sterilisation, and this is where the problem comes in. You might need to start feeding less in order to maintain your dog’s weight – your vet will be able to assist you with this. Puppies also generally get sterilised at a young age, and as they age they might naturally be more inclined to pick up weight, causing pet owners to incorrectly blame sterilisation for the weight gain. The benefits of sterilisationfar outweigh possible disadvantages, and considering how many homeless animals there are in our country, it should be top of the list for a responsible pet owner.

Is my dog fat?

You can assess whether you should be concerned about your dog’s weight by standing above him and looking at his outline from the top. There should be a visible waistline and you need to be able to see the outlines of his hips and shoulders. If you gently run your fingers over your dog’s ribs you should be able to feel each rib, but they should still be covered with a layer of body fat. If your dog has no waistline or there is a bulging tummy and you can’t feel any bones, there is cause for concern.

My dog is fat, now what?

Now it is time to set up a plan of action, and your veterinarian will be happy to assist you in this. He will advise on an eating plan that will ensure your dog is taking in fewer calories per day. He will also help you to make sure that your dog doesn’t lose weight too fast, as this is not healthy either. You will set goals, and from there, it is up to you. Feed your dog only what he is supposed to eat every day, no cheating! Those puppy-dog eyes might be hard to resist, but remember that it is for his own good. Remember to inform the family of your dog’s weight-loss plan. No one is allowed to give him any treats from the table or otherwise. You will have to firmly execute this plan.It will all be worth it once you start seeing results and you have a happy, healthy dog wagging his tail at you!

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