Attack of the Round Hounds

May 25, 2009

in Cat Health

Obese dogs, like humans, are taking over the world! Ok, that’s a bit over the top, but dog obesity is certainly becoming a major problem. If you don’t believe me, all you need do is ask your veterinarian and they will confirm that 25% or more of the dogs they treat are over-weight.

Though you might be of the mindset that your hefty puppy is cute, that adorable roundness comes at a price. Obese dogs are inclined to experience more health issues than their more diet-conscious counterparts. They can suffer from increased incidents of joint and hip problems (such as arthritis), heart disease and diabetes. But the greatest concern to you as about your beloved pet is that the extra pounds it carries translate to fewer years of life.

It is never too late to take the extra weight off of your dog. Rule number one, stop feeding your pup table scraps! Though table scraps are yummy (just ask any dog and they will confirm this) most “people food” is NOT good for your dog. Though most “people food” won’t harm your dog, it is best to stick to a food schedule that includes; you guessed it, regulated portions of dog food!

There are several ingredients used in human food that can actually cause health problems if ingested by your furry friend. Some of these items include: garlic, onions, hot peppers, salt, raisins and grapes. Play it safe and avoid giving your dog table scraps.

As mentioned, maintaining a regular feeding schedule is ideal for your pet. Left unattended, constantly filled bowls of food can lead to problems beyond even obesity. For example, free feeding your pet may lead to potty-training hassles. Naturally, what goes in must come out and a free-for-all feeding habit makes it difficult to predict when your dog will need to do his business. Regularly scheduled feedings make it far easier to predict and accommodate a pet’s potty needs.

To really make a difference in your pet’s weight management, eliminate all temptation entirely by throwing out fatty, processed dog treats completely. Opt, instead, for some of the many healthy pet snack alternatives out there. An option you might consider that doesn’t even require a visit to the pet food aisle is the lowly carrot. This naturally sweet and crunchy treat can become a favorite for some pups and yours might beg for these with the same enthusiasm he once had for the junk food you used to feed him.

All natural turkey bacon that you cook at home is also a great treat to feed your pooch. After all, what dog doesn’t like the smell and taste of bacon!? It is important to absorb all excess grease off the bacon after you cook it. The best way to do this is to use a paper towel. Cook a large batch, remove the grease, crumble it into bite sized pieces and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Easy and droolicious!

A great summer snack for dogs, believe it or not, is the humble and inexpensive ice cube or ice-chips. This treat is particularly appreciated after a long walk in the summer heat. To really sell this to your dog as a must-have item, crumble some of that turkey bacon into the water before freezing. Not only will it be tasty, your dog will have a treat that also keeps him occupied for a while (healthy for the mind).

Having covered some food alternatives, it’s obviously important we also discuss exercise. This is where it’s time to accept that you need to set a good example. Add a lap to your usual walk around the block. You’ll both benefit from it. Just keep an eye on the weather. If it’s hot, give your pup breaks and consider bringing along a bottle of water. A nice, brisk walk is a great way for your dog to lose weight. And, who knows, you might just lose a few pounds yourself!

Remember that you are responsible for keeping your pooch happy and healthy. By owning up to your responsibility you can ensure that he will be around as long as possible. Showing your dog love through food may result in short-term happiness but keep the long-term consequences in mind. Rather than handing out treats when your dog does something wonderful, praise him like he’s just won you the lottery. He’ll be just as pleased with the affection as he would be with a treat.

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