Think your dog is packing on the pounds? While having a fat dog doesn’t seem like such a bad thing—unhealthy weight gain can lead to much more serious health problems like arthritis, heart disease, breathing difficulties, diabetes and bladder cancer.
Take your potentially pudgy pooch to your veterinarian for an assessment and to get advice on a proper slim-down strategy.
Causes of weight gain in dogs:
- Overfeeding - Dogs with unlimited access to food often become overweight. Feeding your dog too much can create fat cells. The result? A fat dog.
- Overeating - Many commercial dog foods are loaded with salt and fat. This improves taste but can result in over-consumption. Ask your veterinarian for a food recommendation (don’t just put your dog on a diet—that’s dangerous, too).
- Feeding habits - Feeding table scraps and home cooked meals to your dog can lead to obesity.
- Lack of exercise - Too much food and too little exercise can cause your dog to gain weight.
- Age - Older, less active dogs are prone to weight gain.
- Gender - Female dogs are more likely to experience weight gain.
- Neutering - Spayed or neutered dogs are twice as likely to become obese.
Along with exercise, a reduced fat/calorie diet can help your dog stay fit for longer. Fiber also plays an important role in proper nutrition, since it reduces the caloric density of the food, while still providing sustenance to keep your dog full.
If your dog has a history of putting on pounds, weight fluctuation can become more common. To keep his weight steady, encourage a balanced diet, establish an exercise routine and take him in for regular check-ups.
Training your dog simple cues can play a big role in leading their exercise routines. Cues are the clearest and best way to control exercise activities with your dog, giving you the chance to be their personal trainer.
- "Sit," "down," "stay," "come," or "heel," are easy cues for most puppies to learn, and are good starting points for cueing up your dog’s exercise activity. Eight to 10 weeks old is an ideal age to start training your pup.
- Keep exercise sessions short; around once or twice a day for 15 to 30 minutes is ideal. Remember that puppies can tire easily. Even if your puppy doesn’t seem tired, it’s important to have a stopping point. Also, repetition and patience are key; memory is not a pup’s strong suit so give them plenty of time, and plenty of chances to learn specific actions.
- The first time you work your dog out on a leash, be prepared for a sore arm. Tugging and pulling is not uncommon for puppies, but the more often you have your puppy wear a collar or leash, the more accustomed to the feeling they will become. If your pup continues to pull on their leash, consider a Loose Leash Walking workshop or dog training classes with a Petco certified dog trainer.
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