It happens little by little so much so that we don`t often notice our dogs piling on the pounds until its to late. An extra treat here, a titbit there, insufficient walks, lack of real nutrition, they all add up.
Unfortunately dogs don`t cope well with being overweight. They can often feel vulnerable as they know they are physically weaker (making them a weak member of your pack). The can`t walk as far, they are unable to play or go for walks properly; is it any wonder we see a change in their character.
Symptoms of an overweight dog
- Loss of waist
- Fat over neck
- Droopy abdomen
- High fat to muscle ratio
- Unable to feel ribcage (please note you should be able to identify your dogs ribcage not be able to see every rib, being underweight puts your dog at risk just as being overweight does)
- Sleeps a lot and is constantly lethargic
- Refuses to go on sufficient walks
- Pants heavily after exercise
- Excessive panting in warm weather without activity
- Struggling up steps
Be sure to see your vet to rule out any heart or kidney problems which may be causing excessive water retention.
What can being overweight lead to?
- Decreased life span
- Luxating patella
- Hip Dysplasia
- Skin Disorders
- Breathing difficulties
- Liver problems
- Poor digestion
- Cardiovascular and heart problems.
Many people don`t think massage can help an overweight dog.
Latent issues in the muscular issue can stop a dog from wanting to exercise or exercising to their full potential. It may hurt them to do long stints of exercise so this pain-soreness-pain cycle they are in prevents them from wanting to do the exercise they so need.
Think about it., if your back was aching would you want to exercise? No, the temptation is to sit around eating more food to occupy and entertain you and the dog is exactly the same.
Massage can help the overweight dog by:
- Softening and making more supple tight muscles that are causing your dog discomfort
- Releasing Trigger Points (look out for twitches and flinches along your dogs back and sides)
- Ensuring muscles are able to work independently yet together
- Decreasing levels of soreness and stiffness
- Relieving connective tissue restrictions
- Increasing circulation and draining lymph
Your dog feeling more comfortable with increased mobility and flexibility that makes them able to and desire to exercise more an be more active so they can burn some excess calories and stored fat.
As your dog wants to exercise more the onus is then on you to walk them longer, play with them move and really take care of what goes into their mouth. Remember a sneaky treat may make you feel good for rewarding them but stop and think about how the food you gives them affects their quality of life. Play a game like hide and seek with a toy to reward them instead, they will enjoy it and it`s a constructive way of building up more of a bond.
- Forget off the shelf supermarket brands and tinned food, this is equal to you eating take aways every night.
- Feed a balanced diet high in protein, vegetables and complex carbs eg: brown rice
- Include digestive enzymes in your dogs food along with a probiotic like acidopholous
- Ignore people who tell you only to feed your dog `dog food` and never human food. A balanced diet of white meat, fish and vegetables is far better than anything that`s been processed and dried.
- Be sensible, don`t feed them processed food or food with additives and E numbers that can affect their natural bio-chemistry
- Plenty of water
- Watch their portion size
- If you feed dog biscuit seek out a holistic brand
- No titbits or leftovers. None.
- Weigh your dog once a week, a free service at all vets
- Invest in a “non bolt” dog food bowl that slows them down when eating
- Add some water to dry food so it is bulkier in the bowl rather that letting them eat dry biscuit and then down a bowl of water. All that`s happening is the food is swelling in the stomach, particulary dangerous for deep chested and giant dogs prone to bloat
- Feed in a Kong
- Steadily increase exercise
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