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Learn How to Tell if Your Dog or Cat is Obese and in Poor Health

By Edited Jul 28, 2015 1 0

Is your Dog Healthy?

Dog and cat owners have to take more responsibility in making sure that they have healthy pets. A recent survey has found that one in four cats and dogs treated by vets is overweight these days. That is not good, pet owners need to watch their pets weight, as this may lead to many health problems and diseases. This in turn will not only harm your dog, but your pocket too with expensive medications and treatment.

When visiting the vet, make sure you weigh him/her on each visit. If you have any concerns then ask your vet for advice.

Caring for your pets

Pets need your love and care

If not going to the vet, there is a simple check that everyone can do to see roughly if your pet is overweight. When looking down at your standing pet from above - is there an indent (like a waistline) or is the section in front of the back legs bulging out wider than its hind quarters? If so your dog is definitely overweight. If you have a dog like a Collie with a lot of fur you may need to feel if he/she has this waistline or does it bulge instead.

If this section is dipping in, it could mean your pet is underweight. In bad cases you can feel their ribs with very little flesh covering them. This means a visit to your vet is essential.


Possible causes of underweight pets:

  • Intestinal parasites – worms:  Your dog or cat may have hook, round worms or other types of worms
  • Signs of intestinal parasites – stunted growth in puppies, lack of energy, diarrhoea and dull coat.
  • Poor diet - Is your pet receiving the correct amount of quality food every day?
  • Diseases - Many diseases can cause poor health. Only your vet can advise you about these although I have listed a few that can affect your dog at various ages.
  • Heart - Like humans if a dog is overweight it may increase his hypertension. This can cause heart failure because his heart has to work harder in pumping extra blood to excess tissues.
  • Liver - Fat can build up in the liver which may result in a decreased liver function.
  • Cancer – Increased risk of developing cancer of the urinary bladder
  • Digestive disorders – Increases the risk of constipation and intestinal flatulence.

Risks of Obesity in Dogs

 Several reasons to control obese weight of your pet:

  • Sugar diabetes- warning signs drinking lots of water, large appetite, frequent urination and loss of weight. If a dog is obese it can cause the secretion of extra insulin in response to his increased level of blood glucose.
  • Lower immunity against diseases – has serious consequences, lowering the defences of infection.
  • Surgical operations and anaesthetic – Increased risks to life
  • Osteo joint problems – as your dog ages the risk of joint disorders is more prevalent especially if overweight as it places more strain on its joints.
  • Reduces life expectancy – This applies more in large breed of dogs
  • Poor coat and skin conditions – Your dogs’ fur will lose its shine 

How to Check if your Dog is Overweight or Obese

How to check if your dog is obese

As you can see our dog Titan is overweight in the above picture. Notice how his tummy extends out beyond the rear flank. He was 22 kilos in this picture. He now weighs 18 kilos.  He is 12 years old and like all older dogs on medication for problems with his aging joints. This medication is expensive, although he is worth every penny.  

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How to Succeed with a Diet for your Dog


Healthy food - Titan loves his yogurt

Titan loves to lick out the yogurt container and it is good for them

Your dog looks to you for comfort and care. Therefore, it is up to you to act responsible and get his diet right to keep his weight under control.
Food diet control.

All dogs need a regular diet of healthy food. Weigh out the exact quantity of required food each day, then you will know he/she is not getting too much food. If you prefer you can make healthy home cooked meals for your dog so you know what he/she eats. That way, you can avoid giving him harmful chemicals that manufacturers put in the bought food.

By dividing this food into two or three portions, you can spread it out during the day instead of giving all in one meal. Ask your vet for advice on a good diet for your dog.

Avoid giving treats when on a diet. Or deduct that amount of food from the daily amount if treats given.

Exercise your dog

Do not wait until your dog is overweight to give him/her exercise. Start exercising when a puppy, this will reduce the risk of him/her becoming overweight. Take him for walks every day if possible.

If not able to take them daily, then buy food dispensing toys that he has to work to get the food out. This will also help reduce boredom if the owner works.

Another idea to try is to hide some food then urge your dog to look for it. Reward him with a treat when he finds it in the beginning. This is another way for him/her to keep active while home alone.

Most dogs will love a visit to the beach and a swim. Throw a ball on the beach  or in the water so he can enjoy a swim.

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Tips on Feeding your Dog

  • Feed your dog twice a day - this will reduce the risk of bloat which is fatal.
  • Always have fresh water available.
  • Raw bones – Give these once or twice a week. Always supervise when your dog is eating the bone. Make sure the bone is large so it will not fit in his mouth so he cannot swallow it whole.
  • Grass – Allow access for the dog to eat fresh growing grass. This is like medicine to dogs. Beware that the grass is free from chemicals and weed killers.
  • Foods to avoid - Never give your dog: Cooked bones, chocolate, grapes, sultanas, raw carrots, onions, coffee, garlic, nor any type of fruit stones (seeds inside the fruit). Sausages and Sausage meat could have sulfites in them.

Conclusion: If you look after your dog’s health and welfare, he/she will return your love tenfold. They say a dog is man’s best friend; you will be his friend for life if you keep him healthy and happy. 

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  1. Wikipedia "Obesity in pets." Obesity in pets. 2012.

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