What is obesity?
Obesity is a major problem in dogs and can have long-term consequences on the health of pets. Obese pets are more likely to suffer from conditions such as arthritis, breathing difficulties, heart problems and diabetes. Unfortunately, obesity is a vicious circle because once a pet is overweight, their physical activity is also likely to drop making it harder to lose weight.
Regular weighing should enable any weight gain to be identified. Obesity can be recognised by assessing a dog's body condition. Dogs in good condition should have an obvious waist in front of the hind limbs when viewed or stroked along the flanks from above. In thin-coated dogs it should also be possible to feel but not see the outline of the ribs. If in doubt your veterinary practice should be able to advise.
What causes obesity?
Obesity occurs when overeating, often caused by occasional treats and 'tit bits' exceeding the energy needs of dogs leading to the storage of fat.
Your vet will be able to advise you on a diet and exercise plan to help your pet lose weight. In addition, veterinary practices throughout the country hold weight management clinics to offer obesity advice to pet owners.
A variety of calorie-controlled food is available from your vet, country store or pet shop and this may be used to aid a weight loss plan. It's also advisable to increase the frequency of your dog's walks, avoid 'tit bits' and keep a food diary to record everything that your dog eats.