Letting your dog gain too much weight
According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, an estimated 53 percent of dogs were overweight last year. In addition to that, the association found that 95 percent of the owners of these obese dogs incorrectly identified their pets as being at a normal weight. As Dr. Shari Brown, a veterinarian in Chesapeake, Virginia, notes, letting your dog get too heavy can not only reduce his life span but also his quality of life. “People do not realize that dogs do not process or break down food like we do,” she explains.
For example, when a dog eats 1 ounce of cheddar cheese, it is equivalent in calories to a human eating 1.5 hamburgers or 3 chocolate bars. And it’s not just people food that presents the issue—some dogs are simply being fed too much dog food or treats. “I tell owners to treat each treat like a candy bar. Would you give your child 8 candy bars a day? I’m guessing not,” Dr. Brown adds.
Solution: Dr. Brown advises limiting the amount of people food you give to your pup and making sure that you are correctly monitoring his intake of kibble. She also recommends that pet parents increase their obese pets' exercise routines, even if that means getting creative. “If it is cold outside or the owner is unable to exercise much, put a leash on your dog and take them for a few laps around your backyard or house. Or put a leash on them and take them for a tour around the inside of your house,” says Dr. Brown. “Anything to get him moving.”
If the weight still isn't coming off, consult your veterinarian, as they may want to put your pet on a dietary program. Your vet may also be able to help identify an underlying disorder, likehyperadrenocorticism or hypothyroidism, that may be contributing to weight gain.
Periodontal disease (gum disease), is a common problem in dogs. As the American Humane Society reports, veterinarians estimate that 85 percent of dogs over five years of age suffer from the condition, which develops after food and bacteria collect along the gum line and form plaque in a dog’s mouth. A build-up of oral bacteria can ultimately lead to all sorts of health problems for your pet, including heart valve problems and infections within the kidneys.
Solution: Dr. Jeff Werber, owner of Century Veterinary Group in Los Angeles, CA, recommends grabbing a toothbrush and scrubbing your dog’s teeth as often as you can.
“It's not that difficult to brush your dog's teeth (the finger brush works great) and there are chew toys and bones that assist in reducing plaque, as well as water additives that help maintain oral health,” he explains. It’s also a good idea to schedule a visit with your veterinarian for a professional cleaning session at least once each year, says Dr. Werber.
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