Between 22% and 44% of pets worldwide are obese, and these numbers only seem to be rising, the BBC reports. Obesity in dogs is a serious issue, which impacts their overall quality of life and leads to serious health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes, respiratory illness, heart disease, and cancer. Feeding your dog a healthy diet and regular exercise is key to helping him maintain and healthy weight.
Obese owners = obese dogs
Obese owners are more likely to own obese dogs. As it happens, obesity rates in humans are also at an all time high, though the reasons for obesity in humans and the connection to their dogs are numerous and complex. Genes play a role in weight gain as people with overweight parents have a higher predisposition to overeating or abnormal fat storage. It’s also thought that overweight owners are more likely to snack throughout the day. If they’re eating, they feel guilty for not feeding their dog and may be more likely to reward them with unearned and unnecessary treats. Over time, the dog will naturally gain more and more weight just the same as their owner.
Behind the weight gain
As well as being over fed, obese dogs are less likely to be walked enough. However, it’s not always the owners fault. Around one quarter of labrador retrievers — one of the most popular breeds — have been found to possess a gene mutation responsible for increasing their appetite. They’re genetically disposed to hunger and weight gain. If you have a labrador retriever, it’s possible to keep him at a healthy weight with some extra vigilance on your part. Feed them a nutritious, high-quality diet and cut out unnecessary snacks. Labradors should also have an hour of exercise a day.
Preventing obesity in dogs
All dogs should get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day (you can split this up into 10-minute increments throughout the day). Throwing a ball for your dog will also help him burn off calories. High-protein, low-fat dog food is ideal for boosting metabolism and increasing satiety. If you need to switch dog food, do so gradually to avoid upsetting your dog’s stomach. Mix half of the new food with half of the old food for one week before switching to the new food completely.
If you’re unsure if your dog is at a healthy weight or not, consult your vet. Your vet will check if your dog needs to lose any weight and recommend food, portion sizes, feeding times, and exercise options. Getting professional veterinarian advice can be key to keeping your dog happy and healthy.