Why is your dog fat? Top causes and quick solutions to obesity in dogs

If your dog happens to be fat or obese, the problem is not only with your dog’s looks; extra weight also leaves a significant, negative imprint on your dog’s health. What’s worrying, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, is that more than half of the dogs in the United States are obese or fat. The good thing is that you have the power to change the situation.

Obese English bulldog

In this article, you are going to learn about the most common causes of obesity in dogs, as well as quick tips to overcome them.

  • Medical problems. These are not the most common causes of obesity in dogs. Only certain diseases, such as diabetes, can cause a dog to gain weight, no matter how little he eats. And despite a common belief, old dogs are not the only dogs prone to such problems. It is highly recommended to visit a veterinarian if your dog carries extra weight, because putting a dog with an underlying medical problem on a diet will not work and it may even cause harm. Besides, obesity is very likely to cause medical problems.
  • Exercising too little. Similar to humans, dogs have become extremely sedentary over the past decades. Dogs who used to guard homes, assist in hunting or chase sheep all day have now become exclusively companion animals. During the day, most of them patiently wait at home for their owners to return and spend the evening in quiet time with their owners by the television. What you need to do is to get moving, at least a tiny bit, but do it every day. Nothing burns calories as much as playing, walking or even running with your dog. Additionally, click here to read about other ways you can be active with your dog.
  • Feeding too much. The formula for weight gain is as simple as 3 – 2 = 1. That is, calories consumed minus calories spent in activities equals weight gain. Most dogs of today eat too much. Does your dog overindulge in food? How would you know? If you do not have a clue, measure your dog’s daily portion of food and stop free feeding your dog. Read the feeding guidelines on your dog’s bag of food. There must be a table that states the amounts of food necessary for dogs of different weights. Assess your dog’s ideal weight and feed him according to it. An easy practice is to weigh your dog’s daily food in a cup in the morning and feed it throughout the day.
  • Table scraps and treats. Those are very dangerous in terms of overeating, because who counts them? Well, you should. We don’t say that table scraps and treats are to be avoided completely. It’s OK for the dog to have an occasional treat, especially if you are training your dog. However, treats shouldn’t account for more than 5% of your dog’s total food intake, and — IMPORTANT — for every treat your dog receives, reduce his daily food intake accordingly.
  • Poor diet. Dog food high in fat and carbohydrates is bad for your dog’s weight. In this range are the lower-end and middle-grade commercial dog foods, including many branded as “premium,” “top quality” or “vet’s choice,” as well as poorly managed homemade diets. Of course, homemade diets are not that difficult to make if you know what you are doing and avoid foods like porridge without meat, meat without organs, oil-cooked food, barbecue or cakes.
  • Age changes. As a puppy grows up, his caloric needs are reduced, and many people fail to reduce the amount of food accordingly. Similarly, as your dog gets older, his activity decreases, his metabolic rate slows down, and his food intake should be reduced.

Once you understand the cause of your dog’s obesity, you are in a much better position to stop it and even reverse it. However, putting your dog on a crash diet is also not welcome. You can learn how to put a dog on a diet properly in our next article.