I was at my sister's place yesterday and noticed (I tried not to, really) that her dog had gained a few pounds. "She's big-boned," my sister said in defense of her chubby dog. After making a few comments that I shouldn't have made, I realized that she was serious- the vet was concerned about the dog's weight and had encouraged her to get the dog on a diet. Like any good parent, my sister got a little protective of her furry friend. What was she doing wrong?
Actually, not a lot if you consider the fact that 40-50% of American dogs are estimated to be over-weight, if not "doggone" (sorry) obese. The reasons for overweight dogs are the same as overweight humans: too many calories and not enough exercise. Part of the problem can be attributed to too many animals competing for the same food. Like in the wild, it is survival of the fittest. The bigger dog will more than likely take more than his share of food.
Petplace.com recommends that dogs lose no more than 1-2 pounds per week, but of course, this is hopefully dependent on the size of your dog. "Approximately one pound of fat is lost for every 3,500 calories expended." Other recommendations include "fun exercise" (perhaps the Wii Fit for dogs will be Nintendo's next greatest hit?), smaller portions, and no treats as rewards. The article promises that these and a few other recommendations will result in your dog not only being healthy, but being in a "svelte" condition.
I don’t mean to take the problem lightly as dog obesity is not a laughing matter. Extra weight on a dog can not only put pressure on the dogs joints, but cause more problems in surgery and in the dog's later life. According to another expert, if you are not sure if your dog is carrying a few pounds too many, you should check for a thin layer of fat around the ribs while taking into consideration the differences in breeds. It is also important to recognize that some breeds just have a natural propensity towards "chubbiness", so it is important to know the healthy weight range for your dog.