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It has become more and more common to see overweight dogs - this here is a guide to help one find out if your dog is overweight/too skinny and to find a healthy weight for your dog. Why is this important? - it's important because being overweight/underweight can cause loads of helth issues and shorten the life span of your friend.

Dog obesity

Is my dog fat?

Does my dog have a healthy weight?

HOW TO Help Your Obese Dog Get In Shape | Find A Vet

Dog Obesity

Dog obesity is a problem of staggering proportions. According to one annual study conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), 45% of dogs</B></B> in the United States are now overweight or obese.

The situation is even more dire in the UK with researchers at the University of Glasgow reporting that 59% of British dogs are overweight, including 20% that are clinically obese. In Australia, researchers put the number of overweight dogs at 41%.

The Fat Gap

The dog obesity problem is exacerbated by the fact that most owners of overweight dogs don't believe their pets are too fat at all.
A US study found that veterinarians consider 47% of their canine patients overweight or obese (note that this number is virtually identical to the APOP findings); however, only 17% of owners think their dogs are too heavy.
With so many dogs being overweight, dog obesity has become increasingly "normalized" in people's minds.
In Is my Dog Fat?, I provide you with the tools to determine if your dog is overweight. There are a number of simple tests based on visual examination and palpation that will give you a very accurate idea of whether or not your dog is overweight. If the answer to the question in the article's title is "yes," it's time to take action.

Dog Obesity and Health

Dog obesity has serious ramifications for your dog's health, longevity, and quality of life. Being overweight puts your dog at increased risk for the following diseases and disorders:
  • <LI class=custom>Diabetes mellitus and insulin resistance <LI class=custom>Heart disease <LI class=custom>High blood pressure <LI class=custom>Respiratory disorders <LI class=custom>Osteoarthritis <LI class=custom>Orthopedic injuries such as cranial cruciate ligament rupture <LI class=custom>Reproductive disorders
  • Lipid metabolism abnormalities
If your dog is already experiencing one or more of the above health problems, being overweight will exacerbate them. Overweight also reduces heat and exercise tolerance, weakens the immune system, and increases the risk of surgery and anesthesia.
Finally, there's the issue of longevity. Veterinarians have long known that leaner dogs stay healthy longer, and now there's research to back up our observations.
A 14-year study conducted by the Purina Pet Care Center found that keeping dogs lean adds an average of 1.8 healthy years to their lives. What makes these findings particularly interesting is that the study controlled for genetics, diet, and environment. The test and control groups consisted of several litters of Labrador Retrievers, all eating the same food and living in the same environment. The only difference was that the dogs in the test group were fed 25% less than their litter mates in the control group.

When Dog Obesity Is Caused by Disease

Dog obesity can cause many diseases but the reverse is true too: There are diseases that can cause overweight in dogs.
In Obesity and Diseases, I discuss the pathology and symptomatology of the two most common culprits: hypothyroidism and hyperadrenocorticism, also known as Cushing's disease.
If your dog is not losing weight,or even gaining weight, despite only very moderate calorie intake, hypothyroidism may be to blame. If, on the other hand, your dog has developed a ravenous appetite and is devouring vast amounts of food—possibly stealing food or raiding the garbage when you try to cut back—you may need to consider the possibility of Cushing's disease.
Both conditions are treatable, and the weight gain that accompanies them is reversible.

Weight Loss for Dogs

So, your dog is overweight and you are determined to do something about it. But what?
Should you just cut back on what you're currently feeding or switch your dog to a special weight loss dog food? How much should you feed in order for your dog to safely lose weight? How much weight should your dog lose per week? Is it necessary to increase the amount of exercise your dog is getting? What about treats? And how do you stay motivated to stick with your dog's weight loss regimen?
These are some of the questions I answer in Weight Loss for Dogs.

Best Weight Loss Dog Food

Most weight loss dog foods are high in carbohydrate and fiber and low in fat, but is that really the best way for your dog to lose weight?
In Best Weight Loss Dog Food, I look at the current research and make the case for high protein, low carbohydrate weight loss diets for dogs.
High protein/low carb dog foods closely resemble the canine evolutionary diet and have many advantages over the traditional high carb/low fat weight loss dog foods. Not only does protein promote satiety better than high fiber levels, but since high protein diets are almost always meat-based, they are highly palatable to dogs.
Palatability matters because there's not much point in a weight loss diet your dog won't eat. Not to mention that most dog owners have a tough time making their dog stick to a diet that's making him or her miserable.
This point ties in with another major advantage: High protein/low carb dog foods allow for greater fat loss while requiring only a very moderate caloric restriction. In other words, your dog won't be going hungry.
Additionally, increased dietary protein levels allow dogs to retain a greater percentage of lean muscle mass when losing weight, which is very important. It's true that most dogs can lose weight on any food as long as calorie intake is sufficiently reduced, but dieting will be much easier on your dog if you select the best type of weight loss dog food.

Low Carb Dog Food

Low carb dog foods are a relatively new addition to the commercial dog food market, which has long been dominated by foods high in carbohydrates and grains.
I've already discussed why low carb diets are ideal for weight loss, but what exactly is a low carb dog food? Are low carb dog foods and grain free dog foods the same thing?
In Low Carb Dog Food, I attempt to answer your questions about these new foods. What are their advantages? And what should you look for when selecting a low carb dog food for your canine companion?
You will see that low carb dog foods can vary dramatically—in ingredients, protein quality, carbohydrate levels, and fat content.

L-Carnitine and Canine Weight Loss

Sometimes classified as an amino acid, L-carnitine is a vitamin-like compound derived from dietary protein. It is found in virtually all weight loss dog foods and countless weight loss supplements for pets as well as humans.
L-Carnitine and Canine Weight Loss takes a look at the workings of this supplement. Can L-carnitine really help your dog lose weight? If so, how does this supplement promote weight loss? Is it possible to increase your dog's L-carnitine levels without supplementation?
I also discuss conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), another supplement that provides very similar weight loss benefits as L-carnitine and can be derived from the same dietary sources.

The number of overweight and obese dogs increases every year, and the main reason is a combination of inadequate exercise and too much food and treats. The results of all those extra pounds are numerous health problems, diminished quality of life, and several years deducted from your dog's lifespan. But it doesn't have to be that way. With the latest nutritional advances, weight loss for dogs is easier than ever. All it takes is for you to make the decision to start your dog on a weight loss regimen and then stick with it. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by how painless canine weight loss can be and thrilled with the changes in your dog's energy and enjoyment of life!
Carb math

Carbohydrates = 100% - % of protein - % of moisture(water) - % of ash (usually 8) - % of fat

Here are some visual guides:


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Healthy weight body type 1:

Healthy weight body type 2:

Healthy body type 3:

Health weigt body type 4:

Overweight/moderate obese (body type 1, 2, 3 & 4):

Extreme obesity (body type 1, 2, 3 & 4):


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I'm glad you posted this. If you don't mind, I'd like to share Lola's story with her weight struggle.

When Lola was spayed at 7 months old she weighed 21 lbs. Lola is one of the larger Pug's. She will never be 12-18lbs like most of them, her body just has a larger build. The next summer we took her in for another check-up and she weighed in at 28lbs. She was teetering on the edge of being overweight, and being normal size. So, at that point we didn't change her food or do anything differently. They just told us to watch her treats, and make sure not to give her table food (we didn't give her any before then either). Moving forward to last summer she weighed 31lbs. Keep in mind, she's only eating 1 1/4 cups of food a day and getting only the occasional low fat treat with daily (short) walks. They also recommended we put her on a diet dog food. We did that as well. This past September we took her in for having difficulty breathing. She had gained 3 more pounds!

This is Lola at her heaviest, weighing 34 lbs.

At that point her Vet decided that we had to do something drastic. You can't walk a dog that can't breathe, so exercise was out of the question. Her thyroid had been checked three times at this point, and full blood panels. Her Vet decided she needed to go on a medication called Slentrol. Basically, it's a dog diet medication. I was not thrilled about it at all, who wants their dog to take something like that? I didn't. But, I felt like if we didn't do something at that point, she was going to die. So, I agreed to try the Slentrol. I was extremely worried about side effects. The only side effects are vomiting, she has vomited one time in almost 3 months of being on the medication. To this date Lola has lost 4 lbs. It's unreal the difference in her energy level, and over all well being. I'm not saying Slentrol is for every overweight dog, it isn't. Most dogs with diet restrictions and exercise can loose the weight. Lola simply could not. I just wanted to share our story, and never go in and ask you Vet for Slentrol. They recommended it to me. You need to exhaust all other options before resorting to medication. I have no idea what will happen when she goes off Slentrol. I will update this thread when she takes her last dose.
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