Overweight Dog:  Is your small Dog Obese?

Do you have an overweight dog?  Perhaps you'd like to ignore the situation, but if your Small breed dog is overweight, you are cheating him out of the chance to live the best possible life. Overweight Small breed dogs are at increased risk of developing painful conditions like osteoarthritis and life-threatening ones like respiratory, cardiovascular disease , Type 2 diabetes high blood pressure and many forms of cancer.

We all know that it is very costly and difficult to treat these diseases once they have been established.  Prevention is much cheaper and easier.  The bottom line:  They need to go on a dog diet and get more exercise.

The problem of obesity in our pets is on the rise.  According to the sixth annual National Pet Obesity Awareness Day Survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) found 52.5 percent of dogs and 58.3 percent of cats to be overweight or obese by their veterinarian. That equals approximately 80 million U.S. dogs and cats.

Many small breeds are at risk for obesity.  Small breed dog are not as active as larger breed dogs and one of their favorite pastimes is to cuddle up on your lap.  It’s so easy to enjoy their company and their pure relaxed contentment on your lap that you forget they need exercise, too. 

Another problem that Small breed dog owners face is a two edge sword.  These dogs learn very quickly.  In a weak moment, you give them a great tasting snack and they will never let you forget it.  Too little exercise and too many high calorie snacks only lead to one thing--an overweight dog. And, canine obesity is a serious health concern.

Your Small breed dog is at your mercy when it comes to meal and snack time, and the only discipline being exercised in doggie's diet is yours. It is not always easy to look beyond those gorgeous pleading eyes, but when you give in to your Small breed dog, you may be doing her more harm than good.   Many of our beloved pets are not living out their life expectancy due canine obesity.

As with humans, if you have an overweight dog,  then she is taking in more calories than necessary. Period! If your Small breed dog is overweight and is otherwise healthy then she is eating way too much and/or not getting the exercise she needs.

What Causes small dogs to be overweight dogs?

Too Many High Calorie Treats

"Lola won't stop pestering me unless I give her a treat and she won't settle at night unless he gets his special sausage treat."  Good for Lola!  She has successfully learned how to manipulate this owner into a treat for herself.  Talk about negative conditioning here.  Lola’s owner hasn't trained her properly to have some manners and instead Lola has managed to train her owner.  She knows exactly what being a nuisance will do—it will get her a treat and eventually the pounds start to mount on her. 

There is no shortage of dog treats on the market today.  Just visit a supermarket or pet store and you will notice that there is often an entire isle devoted to treats alone.  Giving a dog a treat without making them work for it not only hurts the relationship, it undermines any training you are doing and it puts on extra pounds. Dog treats are only part of the problem.  As humans, we like to snack, especially while watching TV.  If our favorite canine is snuggled closely, it’s very easy to give her the same foods you are eating without paying much attention to the amount your dog is consuming.

Picky Eaters May actually turn into
Overweight dogs

One of the most common excuses for overweight dogs in this country goes something like this:   "Bella won't eat dog food." So, then what does Bella eat? You got it, table scraps and whatever it wants. Here we are not describing a well-researched home cooked diet, just what’s left over when the people finish eating.

Oftentimes overweight dogs also become ones who are excellent at begging at the table.  It only takes a couple of times when an owner is in an overindulgent mood to get the begging habit started.  Once little Bella, the Small breed dog has succeeded in training the owners to give her what she wants, then the habit gets entrenched in both the dog and the owner’s mind.  As we all know, habits are hard to break.  Sadly, though the dog is paying the price for it physically. Small breed dog are much more likely to prefer food from his owner’s hands then a dog bowl.  Here again, the dog is not getting the proper nutrition, but has learned still another bad habit:  Begging.

Lack of Exercise: A common cause of overweight dogs

Most Small breed dogs do not need a ton of exercise.  They can often get most of their requirements by following you around the house every day or running around the yard.  Some enjoy a quick burst of energy where they run wildly seeming to enjoy every moment.  They also enjoy short brisk walks with their favorite human.  But what about those dogs who are confined to small spaces while the owner works, does not have opportunities to move about the house or take walks.  These dogs are at risk especially if they also enjoy a high calorie diet.

Medical Causes

Sometimes there is a medical reason for a dog gaining weight.  If your dog is experiencing weight gain, you should have her examined by your Vet to check for heart, thyroid or other metabolic disorders to rule out a possible medical cause. Some common diseases associated with weight gain include hypothyroidism and hyperadrenocorticism or Cushing’s disease. Small breed dogs as a breed are prone to thyroid problems. 

Treatment Ideas for Overweight Dogs

Check with your Vet First

Before you decide to put little Bella on a diet, check with your veterinarian. Get an accurate record of his weight and determine the ideal weight for his breed.  If she is a purebred dog, you can get the breed standard on the AKC website.  Their weight should be proportional to their overall size.  Your veterinarian will be able to tell you how many daily calories your dog can consume and still begin to lose weight.  This amount must include all the extra table scraps, treats and doggie cookies you are now feeding.   

Become a Dog Food Label Expert

Next you will want to become fluent in reading dog labels to find the best dog food that Bella will eat. The easiest way to manage a diet is to remove all treats entirely and then substitute them for something healthy and low calorie such as carrots, celery, broccoli or asparagus.  Many dogs love the crunchy feeling that accompanies nibbling on raw veggies.

First take a good hard look at the food you are feeding. The FIRST ingredients present in the bag of food should be MEAT or meat products, NOT grains like corn. Look at the first five ingredients and compare two or more brands.  Premium or higher quality dog foods will have more meat, fish or poultry as the main ingredients.  Small breed dogs do much better on commercial diets that do not contain the grains, corn, wheat or soy. 

Snack Time Options

In the meantime, if she begs – do NOT give in. If she has finished his bowl of food and looks expectantly at you for more, give him a bowl of fresh water instead.  If you must give him something when she begs, offer him a couple pieces of his normal kibble. 

Sometimes this works because it has your scent on the food.  If she refuses, shrug your shoulders and walk away.  At the end of two weeks, weigh him again.  If Bella has lost some weight, great, then stick to this schedule. If she hasn't lost any weight, reduce his intake and also find out if someone else in the house is sneaking treats to Bella.  Doggie Diets are only successful if everyone in the household is on the same page.

Low Cal Diet

If you're wondering about low calorie diets for overweight dogs, you can purchase them, but many vets don't like to recommend them as they have very restricted fat levels.  When they produce dog foods with reduced fats, the carbohydrates are increased.  When dogs ingested additional carbohydrates, their bodies must produce extra insulin.  What happens is that the extra insulin production tells the dog’s body to store the unused calories as fat.  It becomes a vicious cycle.

Exercise Options

Exercise is important especially for dogs that are overweight.  To benefit from a walk, however, requires you to pick up the pace.  A casual stroll stopping every few minutes to sniff is not going to burn off many calories.  A short brisk walk is better for this breed than a long leisurely stroll.

Play Fetch:  Not all Small breed dog dogs enjoy this game, but if yours does, by all means play it daily.  Your dog will get plenty of exercise and you will have some great bonding time with him as well.

Does your dog get those bursts of energy where she runs wildly in a room or between rooms?  If possible, encourage this, but don't overdo it. 

Extra Water

Always offer plenty of cool fresh water during and after exercise and if the weather is especially warm, limit exercise times to early morning or evening when temperatures drop.

We all love our pets and want what is best for them.  Sometimes we tend to kill them with our kindness by providing unhealthy diets.  There are far better ways for us to show our love than with too much food. Your pet will almost certainly enjoy spending more time on walks or playing games with you than he or she will when eating alone. There are plenty or nutritious foods which have loads of doggie palate appeal out there, so you should never feel like Bella is missing something by not dining at the family table.

From Overweight Dogs Page to Home Page

From Overweight Dogs to Small Dog Health Page

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