October 9 is Pet Obesity Awareness Day, and interactive doggy day care Hounds Town USA has gathered a few tips to figure out if your dog is overweight and how to help. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention has been studying dog and cat obesity for more than a decade, and the results are sobering. More than half the pet population has a weight problem, with a whopping 55.8% of dogs and 59.5% of cats being classified as overweight or obese.
How Can I Tell if My Dog is Overweight?
The easiest way to tell if your dog needs a diet is really just by paying attention, according to the American Kennel Club.
- Look at your dog. If you see a swinging belly or your dog’s chest lines up with his stomach (and doesn’t curve upward), your dog probably needs to lose a few pounds.
- Feel his ribs. A dog at a healthy weight should have prominent ribs. If you can’t feel them easily when your dog is laying down, he’s probably overweight.
- Listen to his breathing. When you take your dog for a walk, listen to his breathing. If it sounds labored or struggling, it’s possible that your dog is obese.
- Talk to your vet. Just because your vet hasn’t addressed your dog’s weight doesn’t mean it’s not a problem. Some vets might be avoiding the conversation because they don’t want to offend you.
What Are the Health Risks for an Overweight Dog?
Getting your dog to a healthy weight should be a major priority and not just because it could save your dog’s life. Pet obesity has long been associated with diabetes, kidney disease, liver problems, mobility difficulty, high blood pressure, labored breathing, arthritis and joint issues, liver problems, and cancer. Even if being overweight doesn’t prove fatal to your pet, the medical issues could be costly in terms of stress and finances to your family.
How Can I Help My Dog Lose Weight?
According to the 2018 National Pet Obesity Survey, the most effective methods for pet weight loss were calorie reduction and increased exercise. Talk to your vet about getting a targeted calorie count for your dog and cat, and stick to it! And tack on an extra 10 or 15 minutes to your daily walks if you can – it’s good for you and your dog.
Dog Day Care and Weight Loss
Sometimes daily walks aren’t enough to reduce your pet’s extra pounds. It could be because walking is a form of slow cardiovascular exercise. Your dog’s body could also be used to the routine.
Hounds Town USA is a fully interactive doggy daycare and allows dogs to play together in natural pack environments all day long. The play is not only great for socialization, but it means the pups exercise throughout the day, which is more effective than going on five walks!
“Our customers always tell us that their dogs come home happy and exhausted at the end of the day. Exercise and play is the best diet for a happy dog!” says Hounds Town President Jackie Bondanza. Founder Michael Gould adds, “The interaction of daycare allows more psychological and physical activity for dogs than regular walks. Plus being tethered to a leash is unnatural and can make dogs anxious. We like to let dogs be dogs here, and the happy faces speak for themselves!”