You’ve probably come across the many adorable memes of “chonky” cats and dogs that look wonderfully squishy and playful, but as sweet as those photos and captions might be, too much extra weight poses a serious health risk to these animals. Being overweight can be just as detrimental for pets as it is for their owners, so if your dog is starting to get on the heavy side, it’s time to take action.
Extra weight can impact quality of life
Being overweight can have a serious impact on the quality of life your dog will enjoy for various reasons. Depending on the breed, age, and size of your dog, it may be more difficult for some to carry the extra weight, and this can lead to a host of problems such as joint issues, pain, lack of mobility, and more.
In addition to causing physical limitations, excess weight can impact a dog’s health and mood over time. Being unable to move or play as freely can cause dogs to become withdrawn or depressed and put them at risk of other long-term health conditions that might require a lifetime of medication to treat.
Understand your dog’s individual needs
Depending on the lifestyle your dog will be living, nutritional and health needs can vary a lot, and many new dog owners make the mistake of following another’s guidelines when it is not appropriate for their own pets. A working dog on a farm, for instance, will have a hugely different lifestyle to a pet living in a city apartment. This article tells you all you need to know about a working dog’s nutritional requirements.
Depending on your dog’s breed, there may be different ideal weights to aim for, so it is also helpful to do some research into this to identify a healthy goal weight. Remember that this can also vary according to individual factors such as a dog’s height, so be sure to take this into account.
Cut back on the treats and scraps
It’s very tempting to reward dogs or treat them with a little extra something, especially when trying to train them or reinforce good behavior. However, all those extra treats can end up being counterproductive by leading to overeating and weight gain over time.
There are many ways to treat your dog while still taking good care of their health. Clickers are a fantastic way of reinforcing positive behavior during training without adding all the extra calories to their diet. You can also consider healthier treats if you do want to add something extra, or be more mindful of what they have at mealtimes to avoid overfeeding. Remember that dogs don’t need to share everything we do, especially that juicy steak or leftover sausage from the dinner table!