Pet obesity is becoming an epidemic in the United States. Many, when they see an overweight dog, they may appear to be cute and cuddly without any problems. This could not be further from the truth. Do you know how when we, as humans, become overweight this can cause a number of physiological problems? You may feel dull, sluggish and/or all around fatigued. Dogs are affected in similar ways. Pet obesity is the largest preventable problem found in pets in the United States and continues to become a larger problem as time passes.

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Each dog has a healthy weight associated with his breed. Each dog is unique and the weight may vary; however, as a responsible pet parent you should determine the healthy weight for your dog. If your dog is at a healthy weight, be certain to keep him at a healthy weight. If you dog is obese, there are actions which may be taken to reduce your dog’s weight and get him back to a healthy weight range. For example, a healthy Labrador Retriever will often weigh between 65 to 80 pounds (of course varies on each individual dog). It is not uncommon to see these dogs over 20 pounds overweight.

Obesity can cause many health risks and it important to understand the risks of having an obese dog. Obesity in dogs may result in arthritis, diabetes, urinary bladder stones and other health impairments. Canine obesity can harm your dog’s organs and result in a much shorter lifespan which means less time spent with him or her. Obesity can become a large problem in a dog of any age; however, most commonly we see dogs between five and ten years of age facing obesity problems.

Prior to attempting to reduce your dog’s weight, your dog should be examined by a veterinarian to rule out any medical problems for her obesity. Problems such as hypothyroidism and insulinoma may be the cause of your dog’s obesity. If your dog is found to be experiencing a medical issue, these issues can often be treated with medication to return your dog to a normal weight. Once these problems are ruled out, you may then begin attempting to reduce your dog’s weight via exercising your dog and/or placing him on a strict diet. This does not mean you should starve your dog by any means. There are diets which will allow your dog to return to normal weight while feeling full in a healthy manner.

In many circumstances, the reason for a dog becoming obese is overfeeding and lack of exercise. Your dog may simply be overweight due to eating an excess amount of food which is not necessary for them to remain healthy; and although your intentions are good, may actually be harming their health. Free-feeding, for example, often should not be permitted if your dog is overweight. Some dogs will eat only until they are full whereas others will eat until the food is gone. You may also be paying attention primarily to the label on the dog food bag to feed your dog; these are only basic guidelines and do not apply to your individual dog.

Going for a walk each day, playing with your dog and determining a suitable diet often returns your dog to normal health. Determining a proper diet is often best discovered with the use of a canine nutrition professional. Some dogs do excellent with commercial dog food; others may do much better on a homemade diet. You want to ensure your dog is obtaining the proper nutrients while dieting. This is not only important when dieting, but even if your dog appears to be perfectly healthy to you, he may be lacking certain nutrients in his food necessary for optimum health.

Optimum health in your dog is necessary to live the best, fullest life possible. A proper diet not only reduces the risk of medical problems but also results in a happier mental state for your dog. Proper diet will balance your dog’s vitamins and minerals, provide him with more energy and make him feel better all-around. This may also assist in increasing the bond your dog has with you as they will feel much better both mentally and physically when obtaining the necessary nutrients for their body.

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By Amber Drake