Overweight dogs are at risk for lung disorders, osteoarthritis, diabetes, hypothyroidism, lameness and oral disease, among others. Those extra pounds can shorten your pet’s life by up to two years. And older dogs are at the greatest risk as they tend to have less active lives. A dog just 15% over optimum weight is considered obese.
So how can you tell if your dog is overweight?
Stand above your dog and look down on her. Is there a waist between the rib cage and hips? It should make an hourglass figure. Now run your hands lightly over her frame. Can you feel the back bone and ribs? Can you feel the pelvic bone? When you look at her from the side, can you see a visible waist? Is her tummy tucked in? If so, then you are probably feeding your dog a healthy diet. But if not, perhaps a little weight loss program is in order.
Where to start?
Bring the subject up with your vet. Ask him to help you determine a healthy weight for your dog. Then work out a plan that includes a
high quality dog food .
Remember that our pets need considerably less volume than humans. For a 50 lb. dog 700 to 900 calories a day is a good guide. Feed your Golden twice a day and do not permit grazing – once they finish their meal, remove the food bowl. Most adult dogs require 1 cup of kibble twice a day. Supplement their food with vegetables and fruits such as carrots, green beans, cucumber sticks, zucchini, apples (seeds, stems and leaves removed) oranges, bananas or watermelon. Note: Grapes and raisins are toxic to your pet! To lose weight, a green bean diet can be a help --- cut back on the kibble by ¼ or ½ a cup and add a cup of no-salt-added green beans or cooked sweet potatoes/pumpkin to help your dog feel full. Omit the processed treats from your pet’s diet and use praise, attention and veggies as rewards. As much as we love to spoil our pets that steak bone with the fat left on it may be tasty -- but it is as harmful to your pet as it is to you. (Beware of “diet” dog foods – read the label before choosing a food.)
Next, get that couch potato moving!
Increase activity with walks and playtime. Rather than allowing your Golden to roam the back yard, hook up that leash and wiggle down the sidewalk with your best buddy. If you and your Golden aren’t in the habit of a brisk walk every day, start slow and work up to a distance comfortable for both of you. Keep in mind that in Florida’s heat, the middle part of the day may not be the best time to walk and concrete gets hot in the afternoon. Find time for a quick game of fetch before you leave for work in the morning or pair up with a neighbor to walk dogs together. Above all, enjoy the friendship of your Golden for years to come by keeping them healthy and fit.
If you’ve determined that your dog needs to drop a few pounds, remember that it’s a gradual process. Losing a pound or two a month is a good target to start with. You and your pet will be healthier and have more years together.
The above information is not meant to replace professional advice from a licensed veterinarian. Please consult with your veterinarian concerning your dog’s medical condition.