Dog owners don’t always recognise that their dog is out of shape. Maybe that’s why nearly half of pets in North America are overweight!
However, an overweight dog can have serious health concerns. Even a few extra pounds can put him at risk for a number of health problems, including:
- Shortened life expectancy
- Skin diseases
- Arthritis and reduced mobility
If you feel that your dog is severely overweight or obese be sure to see your vet so that you can work together on a safe solution for your pet.
Is your dog overweight?
Body condition score, or BCS, is a tool used to evaluate body fat level and determine proper body condition in animals. A vet can give you an expert assessment of your dog’s BCS to tell if your dog is at an ideal weight or if he needs a little help. You can try it out for yourself with our handy BCS tool.
They are better able to run, jump, play and take part in family activities
LOWERED DISEASE RISK
Dogs at ideal weight are at a lower risk for a variety of weight-related diseases
Dogs at their ideal weight are better able to investigate their surroundings and react to stimuli, which helps dogs to feel relaxed and comfortable
They are physically more comfortable and can easily reach an itch, move to a cooler location, etc.
AVOIDING HEALTH ISSUES
Some breeds are prone to breathing or cardiac issues, but that can be less of a factor in healthy-weight dogs
Play your way to a healthy weight
Fetch and chase
Keep your breed in mind when you get started – have you got a heeler or a hound? Playing games like fetch can keep a retriever entertained for hours, while herding breeds will enjoy chasing balls or organising toys. Hounds will love sniffing a scent trail – can he find you or a family member?
Hide and seek
Hide and seek is a great game to play with your dog, though it may take him a few tries to catch on. “Hide” in another room and call him, then reward him by making a fuss over him or giving him one low-fat kibble when he finds you. It may take him a few tries to catch on, but when he’s ready you can make it harder by getting more creative with your hiding places. Just be sure he doesn’t get discouraged.
This is a great group game as well as a way to reinforce his training to come when called. When he’s ready, raise the bar by having several people play, each calling the dog from different areas in turn to really keep your dog on his toes.
Create an obstacle or agility course
This is easily done even indoors. Get creative and use safe household objects like rolled up blankets or cardboard boxes to create hurdles and mazes to run through. Be sure the area is safe, and adjust the course to your dog’s abilities and size. As he loses weight, he may be able to progress to mightier feats.
Take a hike
While this may not be a game, per se, most dogs enjoy a nice long walk. If your dog is very overweight he’ll need to lose a bit before embarking on a grand adventure. Taking a daily survey of “his territory” (your neighbourhood, or somewhere you like to walk regularly) is an important routine. All dogs can benefit from a mix of routine walks with predictable routes and setting sights on new horizons.
Balanced nutrition can be life-changing
Your dog's day-to-day activities and his mood can be negatively impacted if he’s overweight. Food that provides a balanced nutrition can help him get to a healthy weight while still keeping him full and satisfied. Hill’s Science DietMD Perfect Weight foods contain high quality ingredients that are carefully combined to bring out the delicious chicken flavor that dogs love most. Find Hill’s Science DietMD Perfect Weight foods online, at your vet clinic or at a pet store near you.