Vail pets: Obese dogs should go on diets |

Vail pets: Obese dogs should go on diets

Nadine Lober
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado –Most of us in the Vail Valley would hate to admit our pet is overweight.

Still, this should not reflect badly on us owners, even though we are responsible for what our pets eat. We try to please our pets and many of them will beg for food, if allowed, until they get what they want.

Aside from overeating, obesity can be caused by medical conditions such as hypothyroidism, congestive heart failure, diabetes and, of course, lack of exercise. Summer is here, and it should be much easier to take dogs to run around outdoors.

You should be able to feel your dog’s ribs with gentle pressure along the rib cages on either side. And the abdomen should not be pendulous or protrude on the sides.

If you think you pet is obese, it is important to take your pet to the vet in case there is a medical condition that’s causing the weight gain. Obesity can shorten the pet’s life and cause numerous medical problems.

Obesity can cause joint problems and make it hard for dogs to move. More than 24 percent of overweight dogs have serious movement problems, such as arthritis, herniated disks and ruptured knee ligaments. These problems are all caused by the dog carrying excessive weight.

Imagine if you, as a human, were to carry around an extra 20 percent of your body weight. It would be harmful and uncomfortable. I know how I feel after indulging in a large meal, but our pets do not always know what’s best for them.

Respiration is also restricted by obesity, especially during exercise. The fat requires more oxygen and there also is more mass against the chest wall. This means it requires more effort to breath – your dog will get tired more quickly and probably be less interested in exercising or running.

Obesity can cause hypertension and weaken a dog’s heart, leading to congestive heart failure. Obesity can also damage the liver, cause skin problems and heat intolerance, increase the risk of cancer and make surgery more difficult.

If your pet is overweight, it might be time to put your pet on a diet and increase the level of activity. Sometimes it is necessary to change to a lower-fat food with more fiber instead of just decreasing the amount of food your dog eats.

You can also ask your veterinarian for advice before putting your dog on a diet.

Veterinarian Nadine Lober can be reached at 970-949-7972.

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