What is weight management for dogs?

Weight Management

Just as it is for us, keeping our dogs within an ideal weight range is important for their health and wellbeing. Overweight dogs are at an increased risk of a number of illnesses and problems with their organs and joints. Being overweight, even by a relatively low proportion, can potentially shorten a dog’s life expectancy. A dog that is losing weight unexpectedly or consistently failing to put weight on despite feeding for weight gain could have one of a number of conditions as an underlying cause. For a wide range of reasons, being aware of a dog’s weight and condition is very important.

To judge whether your dog is under or overweight, you need to know what your dog’s ideal weight is, and how they should look at that weight. Your vet can give you details of the ideal weight range for your dog’s breed type, and it is a good idea to weigh your dog at least a couple of times a year.

Weight management

Assessing your dog’s physical condition at home takes a few simple steps that can be done regularly to ensure they stay as fit as possible.

  • Run your hands over the ribs. They should be easy to feel under the coat. A significant fat covering means action needs to be taken.
  • Looking at the dog’s back from above, a definite waist should be visible. If there is a straight line running from the ribs to the hips with no inwards curve, then the dog is overweight.
  • Look at the dog from the side. The line of the stomach should lift upwards as it moves towards the back legs. If this line is straight then the dog is overweight.
  • Obviously protruding hipbones or visible vertebrae or ribs show that the dog is underweight.

What is weight gain in dogs?

It is not unusual for our dogs to pile on a few extra pounds if their diet and exercise regime is not quite up to par. Weight issues and obesity are widespread and growing problems in our pets and something with which a large number of dog owners struggle. Being overweight increases the chances of a number of medical conditions developing with serious implications for a dog’s health, even life-threatening. These include osteoarthritis due to the extra pressure put on the joints, urinary stones, diabetes mellitus and heart disease. Being overweight impacts a dog’s quality of life, as it can interfere with their happiness and ability to lead a normal life. A few medical conditions can cause weight gain, so if there is no obvious reason for your dog’s weight to have increased, a trip to the vet to rule out these issues should occur before adjusting their lifestyle.

If your dog is normally fit and a good weight but suddenly has a distended, bloated stomach, this is a medical emergency and the dog should go to a vet immediately.

What is weight loss in dogs?

If your dog is overweight, a controlled steady weight loss will be beneficial to return them safely to a healthy weight. If you suddenly discover your dog losing weight, particularly if in conjunction with other symptoms or that continues despite the dog eating well, this could mean an underlying medical condition that requires treatment or management is present. This is also true if you have taken action to try putting weight on a dog yet they are still losing more. A dog losing weight but eating a good diet is a definite concern. A loss of more than 10% of the dog’s body weight is concerning and should result in a vet visit to identify if there is a medical issue. If a dog cannot properly digest and utilise the nutrients in their food, either because of a health condition or because the food is poor quality, they are malnourished.

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