There is an epidemic here in America, that you may not be aware of. An epidemic of overweight and obese dogs, that affects the majority of dogs! We briefly touched on this fact in our article about your relationship with your Vet. Now we will be expanding upon the fact that 56% of Dogs are Overweight or Obese! A shocking statistic that should make any dog owner think about their dog’s weight.
Crunching the numbers
To fully understand the scope of this obesity problem, let’s look at some numbers that make up this pet health crisis. 100 million dogs in America are overweight or obese, and a high percentage of pet owners are unaware of the fact that their dog is overweight. It is a stark contrast when you consider that for most segments of pet owners, their pet’s health is their #1 concern when they talk to vets. This is all compounded when you consider that 56% of Millennials don’t have a regular vet.
Why Should Dog Owners Care?
Just like in humans, obesity in dogs has been linked to a variety of health issues. Many large breeds of dogs suffer from hip issues, and hip dysplasia is all too common these days. Vets have made a direct correlation between dogs with obesity and a higher rate of hip dysplasia. They have also made connections to heart and liver disease as well. Ideal weight can be vital to the longevity of your pet.
How Do Our Dogs Get This Way
One of the most important things to remember is that for a vast majority of the dog population out there, they cannot control their own food intake. Every calorie your dog ingests on a daily basis is regulated by the humans around it. Much like you and me, dogs have specific calorie needs, and excess calories mean weight gain. The difficulty we run into as dog owners is that treats can work their way into our daily lives, we equate feeding our dog with expressing love for them. A steady influx of treats on top of a full days’ worth of food is a recipe for weight gain in dogs. You wouldn’t eat several Snickers bars every day and not expect to gain weight, it’s the same for your dog!
What Can Dog Owners Do?
It’s important to not get discouraged about your dog’s weight. After you and your vet determine that your dog is overweight or obese there are many steps you can take. Luckily each of these steps that humans can do easily for their dogs! One of the most common is to restrict your dog’s diet, limiting the amount of food they get during feeding and cutting down on the number of treats they are given. That change may seem drastic, since we all know how difficult a diet can be, luckily your dog cannot get into the fridge and break their diet the way we can! Another important step would be to increase the level of exercise, whether it’s taking a long walk every day or simply playing an intense game of fetch! Increasing your dog’s level of activity will burn calories and promote weight loss!