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2 Reasons for Overweight Dogs and 2 Ways to Help

Posted on: January 3rd, 2013 by

Overweight dogs may need more than exercise.

Your pet’s health is our top priority at Pets Best Insurance. To learn more about dog insurance and the affordable options we have for dogs and cats, visit www.petsbest.com.

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Humans aren’t the only ones who pack on the pounds throughout the year. And sometimes despite your best intentions, your dog still can’t seem to slim down.

Julie, one of our Pets Best Insurance Facebook friends asked, “Why won’t my dog lose weight?”

Dr. Fiona, DVM, responded to Julie’s question for Pets Best Insurance. Dr. Fiona says, this is a very difficult question to answer without knowing how old your dog is, how overweight he or she is, what diet you are feeding, and what his or her lifestyle / activity level is like.  However, here are two reasons a dog may be overweight and two solutions to help.

In general, there are two reasons for an overweight dog:

1)      Underlying Health Problems

There are some underlying endocrine disorders, such as hypothyroidism that can contribute to weight gain in dogs. Once illnesses such as underactive thyroid have been ruled out by a veterinarian (usually a blood test is needed for this), it is a simple formula of calories consumed versus calories burned that is responsible for determining a dog’s weight.

2)      Calories In vs. Calories Out

I find that many commercial dog foods overestimate how much food pets need to eat. In addition, ‘people’ food and treats can be very high in calories, especially in a little dog, these calories can add up. Often extra walking or exercise isn’t enough, and modifying the diet or the amount of food is needed.

How to help your dog lose weight:

1)      Nutritional Plan

Consult with your veterinarian to help outline a nutritional plan for your pet. This should include his or her target weight, how many calories he or she should be eating in a day, and how many calories are in a cup of the food you are feeding.

If you want to try to modify at home, I always recommend first determining how much your pet eats in 24 hours (use a measuring cup, not a scoop, to calculate accurate amounts) and reduce that amount by 20%. Be sure to factor in treats and people food as well! Small changes can make a big difference in weight loss in pets. Ensure the whole family is on board with the new plan so that nobody is cheating!

2)      Prescription Weight Loss Medication

If all else fails, there is a prescription weight loss medication for dogs available, called Slentrol. Talk to your veterinarian to see if your pet might be a good candidate for this drug. However, most pet insurance policies (including Pets Best) will not cover this medication.

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