According to most veterinarians, between 25 and 40 percent of dogs are overweight. However, only 5% of owners think their dogs are overweight. It’s important to remember that a five pound weight gain on your dog is different than a five pound weight gain on you. For example, if you take a dog weighing 50 pounds and add five pounds that will equate to a 10% weight gain. On a smaller dog, the problem magnifies, the same extra five pounds on a dog weighing 20 pounds is a 25% weight gain. This potential for exponential weight gain means dog owners must pay attention to our dogs. We must be wary of all the factors, which can contribute to our dogs achieving an unhealthy weight. The eight most common things, which contribute to obesity in dogs are listed below:
Feeding habits: Poor feeding habits are the biggest contributing factor. Whether you give your dog access to their food 24/7 (also known as free-choice feeding), or feed at a specific meal-time. Over-feeding your dog will result in a rapid weight gain. Remember, the feeding guidelines on the dog food label are only guidelines and may need to be adjusted. If your dog continues to gain weight even after making adjustments, you may need to switch to a weight-management food for your dog.
Too Many Treats: It can be hard to resist those cute puppy eyes, but too many treats or table-scraps can lead to weight gain.
Lack of exercise: Dogs need to get fresh air and exercise to help them burn calories. Many dogs do not get enough exercise.
Breed: Certain breeds of dogs are more prone to developing an obesity problem. Owners of breeds, which are liable to become overweight should be especially vigilant and monitor their dog’s weight closely. Some of these breeds include: Beagles, Cocker Spaniels, Dachshunds, Collies, Cairn Terriers, Shetland Sheepdogs, Labrador Retrievers, and Basset Hounds.
Age: As your dog gets older his/her metabolism will probably slow down. Also, younger dogs tend to have high energy levels and are less likely to become overweight. If your dog becomes overweight under the age of two take it as a serious warning sign. You may have to work with your dog his/her entire life to keep him/her from becoming obese.
Social environment: If your dog is bored, he may eat just for something to do. Stress can also cause a dog to eat more. Events that can trigger stress include new people entering the house, changes in household routine, etc.
Neutering and spaying: While neutering or spaying a dog may lower their metabolism and therefore, cause them to require fewer calories. In truth, spaying and neutering in themselves do not cause canine obesity, it is how we care for our dogs afterwards that leads them to become overweight. The reality is that most neutered and spayed dogs are over-fed and under-exercised and consequently, they become obese.
Medial problems: In very rare cases your dog’s weight gain may be linked to a medical issue.