As is the case with the obesity epidemic in humans, pets are becoming more obese as well. In the past two decades the incidence of dog obesity has increased dramatically and this is probably closely associated with the more sedentary lives of pet owners. In fact, the changes in human lives quite closely mirror the changes in dog lives. For example, historically humans needed to work hard to accomplish what are very basic tasks in life today. Laundry was much more of a chore; heating the house required building a fire which necessitated chopping wood; and our jobs have evolved from laborious outdoor work to office-based work.
Similar changes can be noted in a dog’s life. Today, our pets are just companions. They don’t have any work to do, per se. Yet, historically dogs helped on farms or with hunting or were required to survive the harsh realities of life in the wild. Now, dogs are fed and pampered and they often don’t get as much exercise as they need. As a result, dog obesity is on the rise. Unfortunately, obesity in dogs is also associated with very serious health complications. Heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and other diseases of the kidneys, lungs, and liver are much more likely in obese dogs.
As the owner, it is your responsibility to help your dog lose weight. Fortunately for dogs, they have a very controlling personal trainer: you. Remember that your dog will eat whatever you give him so you should start by restricting his diet. Don’t drastically cut calories, but gradually reduce your dog’s caloric intake over a few weeks. Also, increase their exercise. Regular walks and visits to the park to play fetch are great ways for your dog to get more exercise. Again, you want to limit physical activity to your dog’s ability and gradually increase exercise times as his health improves.