How can I tell if my dog is overweight?
Well, at least you’re paying attention to the issue. Many dog owners do NOT pay attention to their pet’s weight. According to Dr. Ernie Ward, a veterinarian who in 1995 established The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), 45 to 50 percent of American dogs are overweight.
Why do we see so many overweight dogs today? Well, first of all, the role of dogs in American life has changed. At one time it was considered an affluent novelty to have a dog in the home if he didn’t perform some necessary job. And kids used to run and play more. Since the family dog accompanied our children, he got more exercise. In the same way that human obesity has become a major health issue, so it is with our four-legged companions.
Overweight dogs suffer from more physical ailments, do not have the same enjoyment of life and simply do not live as long as dogs that stay in their recommended weight range. Health issues for overweight dogs range from heart and liver disease to arthritis, diabetes and spinal problems.
As with humans, lack of physical activity is only part of the problem. We may be literally killing our dogs with kindness, because while we are aware that junk food is bad for our children, many dog owners don’t think twice about giving their dog a wide variety of between-meal snacks. Dog treats are big business too, (like $2 BILLION a year!). But these are not the dog bones of your childhood. To boost treat sales, manufacturers have increased the amount of sugar in your dog’s treats. Many dog treats list sugar in the first four ingredients (meaning in short, there’s a lot of sugar in there). So while the manufacturers get richer, your dog’s health is being bankrupted, because dogs have a sweet tooth just like us, and, besides spurring weight gain, it’s well documented in laboratory tests that feeding excessive sugar creates symptoms similar to drug addiction.
I think of treats like candy bars, and while I love my dogs, I know that indulging them with too many doesn’t help them.