There may be few things as cute as a fat puppy, but puppy obesity can lead to dogs being overweight, which can lead to many health problems. Obesity is defined as being 20% above ideal body weight and is today considered the most common nutritional disorder in dogs. A survey of veterinarians showed that up to 50 percent of adult dogs are overweight or obese. If owners don’t pay close attention to ration control, they’re more likely to end up with an overweight puppy that turns into an obese adult dog.
Large, overweight puppies are at increased risk for hip dysplasia and bone/joint problems as adults. Obesity doubles, triples or quadruples the risk of diabetes and is also an aggravating factor for heart disease, arthritis and allergies. Obesity is also a longevity issue. Long-term studies have shown that thin dogs live two years longer than obese dogs.
Causes of obesity in puppies
Breeds such as Beagles, Labrador retrievers and Shelties are more prone to obesity than other breeds, suggesting that dogs have an inherited “fat gene.” Neutering and neutering can cause a 15% to 20% reduction in a pet’s metabolic rate, which is the speed and efficiency of food use. Puppies may gain weight as adults unless their food intake and exercise are adjusted after spaying.
Today’s pets are overweight because couch potato dogs exercise less, are fed high-calorie tasty treats, and often overeat because of boredom or from owners giving them too many treats. All that kindness turns information into dangerous fat.
How to tell your puppy is overweight
Weight gain can happen very slowly. Also, most people are unaware that pets are outside of healthy weight parameters. Is he fat or fluffy?
A scale by itself is not the best way to tell if your puppy is overweight. A better approach is the hands-on approach. Many pet food companies provide veterinarians with “Body Condition Score” charts that show pictorial examples of pets underweight, overweight, and ideal body size.
Some dog breeds require slightly different ingredients. For example, greyhounds and other hunting dogs should have visible ribs. You may not see this difference until the puppy reaches puberty.
For most breeds, you should be able to feel your dog’s ribs, but not see them. From above, you should see a distinct break in the waist, from the back of the ribs to the front of the hips.
Viewed from the side, the pet should have a pronounced belly tuck, starting behind the last rib and extending to the hind legs. Overweight dogs often develop fat rolls on the lower back just above the tail. If you can’t feel your pet’s ribs, or her tummy sags or bulges, your puppy is too plump.
feed your overweight puppy
If your puppy is overweight, work with your veterinarian to control it. Before starting the diet, your veterinarian should examine your puppy to rule out potential health complications. Like people, puppies should lose weight in a safe, gradual manner. Typically, the goal is to lose one to one percent of your pet’s starting weight each week. Your veterinarian will calculate how much weight to lose and recommend a diet and exercise program that is right for your pet.
To properly regulate feeding, you must understand your pet’s caloric needs and the caloric content of the foods and treats you are feeding. Read puppy food labels. Most pet food manufacturers provide the calorie content of their products or call their 1-800 number.
Calculating how many calories your pet needs is more difficult. There is a huge difference in how many calories you burn in a day from one animal to another, and much depends on the activity level and even the age and breed of the puppy. Your veterinarian can choose from formulas to determine the basal (rest) or maintenance energy needs of a growing puppy or adult dog. Some pet food companies have weight management software programs that allow veterinarians to insert an animal’s weight to estimate their caloric needs.