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Canine Obesity
We're Loving Our Dogs to Death

Canine obesity is reaching epidemic proportions. It is estimated that 25-30% of dogs suffer from obesity with an even higher percentage in the ‘overweight’ category. Far too many people equate loving their dogs with feeding their dogs when the reality is that this form of love is killing our dogs!

A dog that is 10% over their ideal weight is overweight, 20% over their ideal weight puts them into the obese category. And just like with humans, this excess weight leads to a plethora of medical problems.

You are ‘loving’ your dog to an early grave. Yes, I am being harsh, but far too many people just blow this issue off and if you really love your dog, listen!

Canine obesity can lead to congestive heart failure, stroke, heart attacks, cancer, lung disease, diabetes, joint problems, constipation, intestinal gas, anal gland problems and an impaired immune system. How do you like that? They are also much more likely to die during surgery, have hypertension, to develop skin problems, arthritis and spinal disk problems and because of the high risk of developing disease, these dogs have a much shorter life span in general.

Am I getting through to you? Am I making myself clear? This is not a joke!

Take a minute right now and call your pooch over. Run you hands along their sides, can you feel their ribs? You should be able to easily feel, not see, feel their ribs without a layer of overlaying fat. If you can’t, you’ve most likely got a problem.

Now, take a look at your standing dog, can you see a ‘waistline?” You should be able to see an indentation between the ribs and hips and if you look from the side their abdomen should curve up in the area between the ribs and rear legs. So, what’s the verdict? Do you have a ‘potbellied puppy’ or a sleek, fit canine?

If your dog is overweight, it’s time to take action now! Yes, I know, it’s tough to resist that sweet face and those eyes. I have a pair of my own that are masters of the ‘pathetic dog look.’ But it you really love your dog and care about their health and want them to live a long and happy life, take action now!

The first thing you need to do is to evaluate what you are feeding your dog. You need to be feeding a high quality diet. Personally, I have major reservations when it comes to most ‘commercial’ dog foods but if you do feed your dog a ‘kibble’ diet, go with the highest quality, natural or organic you can get. Stay as far away from ‘by-products,’ fillers such a corn and wheat, chemicals and preservatives as you can. Keep in mind that your dog is a carnivore and needs a meat based, high protein, low fat diet.

Start practicing portion control and cutting back. Cut back over a period of time, not all at once. Divide their meals into two small portions which will satisfy over a longer period of time. If you must give your dog treats, try baby carrots, small pieces of rice cake, bit of meat jerky made for dogs or home made. I could continue on regarding the diet changes, but I think you get the idea, it’s really no different then putting yourself on a diet.

Now, diet modification is only the first step, you must also add, yup, you got it, exercise. If your dog is mostly sedentary, start with a couple of short walks. Just like a sedentary person, they will need to start building up their stamina slowly. Increase the walks and as they get healthier you can add to their activities, maybe fetch or Frisbee or playing tug. Swimming is a fantastic activity especially if your pooch has any joint problems, therapy and exercise in one!

Just as a side note, keep an eye on your dog, there actually are some medical reasons your dog may be overweight, such as hyperthyroidism. If you suspect anything, have your dog checked by a vet. When is comes to exercise, don’t overdo, a little at a time and build the activity levels up.

When it comes to getting you canine companion in shape, make it fun, make it a game and before too long you will start noticing some wonderful changes. Your dog will be more youthful, more playful, more active and above all, happier and healthier!! This is the way to love your dog to a longer life!

by Deanna Raeke

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