Obesity is a common problem in dogs, but you can help your pet lose weight. Identifying the causes and following a total weight-management program can result in controlled weight loss and maintenance. A total weight-management program includes evaluating the animal, educating the pet owner, modifying behaviors, and tailoring the program to individual situations.
Definition and Causes of, and Contributing Factors to, Obesity in Dogs
Obesity is defined as an increase in body weight, beyond the limitation of skeletal and physical requirements, resulting from an accumulation of excess body fat.
Obesity is caused when caloric intake exceeds caloric expenditure. This simply means that a dog eats more energy (calories) than it uses and stores the excess energy as fat.
There are many factors that can contribute to obesity:
- Age and gender
- Spay/neuter status
- Diabetes mellitus
- Owner's weight
Fat, Fiber, and Fatty Acids in Your Dog’s Weight-Loss Program
- Dogs use fat as their primary energy source.
- A diet that replaces some fat with highly digestible carbohydrates offers a good low-calorie alternative. Digestible carbohydrates contain fewer than one half of the calories of equal quantities of fat and do not have the disadvantages of indigestible fiber.
Fiber and Fatty Acids
- A normal fiber level, provided in a moderately fermentable fiber source, helps create and maintain a healthy gut. This is especially important to the dog on a weight-reduction regimen.
- Some weight-loss products for dogs dilute calories with high levels of fiber. High-fiber foods might reduce the digestibility and absorption of many nutrients, including fat. These foods reduce weight by providing what could be considered poor-quality nutrition. These high-fiber diets also might result in large, frequent stools, and decreased skin and coat condition.
- Diets that provide an adjusted fatty-acid profile maintain the pet's healthy skin and coat, despite lowered fat levels.
Carbohydrates and Special Ingredients in Your Dog’s Weight-Loss Program
Carbohydrates and Special Ingredients
- Feeding a diet that contains the carbohydrates corn, sorghum, and/or barley can result in lower blood sugar and insulin levels as compared to feeding a diet that contains rice as the primary carbohydrate source. Lower blood sugar and insulin levels also can help with maintaining a proper weight.
In addition, a diet that contains L-carnitine can help dogs metabolize fat. L-carnitine is a vitamin-like compound that helps burn fat.
Weight Loss for Your Dog Should Be Gradual
- The goal of a good weight-loss-management program should be gradual weight loss. This is especially important in cats, because severe nutrient restriction can result in hepatic lipidosis (abnormal fat accumulation in the liver).
- Dogs should lose 1 to 2% of their initial weight per week.
- A good way to begin a weight-loss program is to reduce caloric intake by transitioning to a weight-control or reduced-fat formula. Dogs and cats that do not respond quickly should see their veterinarian for a special weight-loss program.
A total weight-management program can lead to successful weight reduction in the obese dog. Complete evaluation by the veterinarian is always recommended, and owner compliance is essential to success.
IAMS™ and professional veterinary products provide optimum nutrition for animals that can benefit from a weight-management program.
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For some dogs, a simple fence isn’t enough to keep them in the yard. Maybe you’ve got a little escape artist that’s too smart for their own good. Maybe you’re raising a brave explorer who loves to get lost. Or maybe you’ve been unlucky enough to have your dog stolen from their own backyard. Creating a safe and secure space to keep your pet can be a challenge, but we’re here to help. Understanding the common reasons dogs get out and what you can do to prevent it from happening goes a long way toward keeping your furry friend safe.
Why Does Your Dog Want to Escape?
Securing your yard starts with understanding the impulses that drive your dog to see what’s beyond your property. Spaying or neutering is an important first step in curbing a dog’s desire to roam, but there may be other factors at play. Creating a safe yard for a lonely Labrador in search of a friend is an entirely different exercise than securing a burrow-happy beagle on the hunt for a squirrel. We’d recommend trying to learn as much as you can about your dog’s breed and underlying instincts. The most common reasons dogs try to escape are:
- Feeling socially isolated
- Lack of stimulation (think toys)
- Desire to escape something that scares them, like thunder
Countering these behaviors starts with understanding which one is at the heart of your dog’s desire to break free. Once you’ve got a theory of what’s motivating your pup, it’s time to give your safety measures a second look.
How to Keep Your Dog Safe and Secure in Your Yard
Microchip Your Dog and Scan Their Nose
If your dog is committed to getting out, your most useful tool will be the ability to track and locate them wherever they’re found. There are a huge variety of products and services designed to help you keep your dog safe, but the most important thing you can have is a plan. You’ve most likely heard of GPS tracking chips that can be implanted in your pet, but you may not know that you can also scan their nose. Through a new app called NOSEiD, you can capture your dog’s unique nose print, which will give whoever finds them a faster, simpler way of reuniting the two of you. It’s that easy! Just download the app, call your pup over and start scanning.
The Best Defense Is a Good … Fence
Even though they’re not technologically impressive, a sturdy wooden or metal fence still plays an important part in protecting your dog while they’re in your yard. Not only does it keep your dog from wandering, it also keeps unwanted animals and people away from your dog’s space. If your dog can leap over it, you’ll obviously need to raise the height, or you can add an overhang that makes it harder to clear. You might also consider planting some shrubs along the inside of the fence to discourage jumping. If your dog is burrowing beneath your fence, consider adding a barrier beneath it or putting a bumper collar on them, which makes it harder to squeeze into small spaces.
If you have a particularly territorial dog, you may want to cover any open spots in your fence that your dog might spy adversaries through. A solid fence may help them feel safe and diminish their need to patrol their surroundings.
When it comes to electric fences, using one successfully depends on your dog’s personality. If your dog has recently been ignoring the electric fence, you may want to consider retraining them or investing in a physical barrier.
Make “Yard” Mean “Yay!”
Making your yard a dog-friendly and entertaining space is a huge part of keeping your dog safe at home. With enough toys, space to burn energy and ideally a friend to play with, your dog won’t have any reason to see if the grass is greener elsewhere. A few popular dog-pleasers you may want to provide are:
- A bit of shelter or shade
- A source of water
- A rotating lineup of toys
- Their favorite playmate (you)
Use Your Yard Wisely
Last, but not least, if you leave your dog unattended for a long period of time in your yard, there’s a good chance they will get bored and look for a way to burn off some energy. To prevent them from getting mischievous, limit the amount of time they’re out on their own, and check in frequently. Also, for dogs with separation anxiety or that may be afraid of loud noises, your presence will help keep them calm and close to home.
With your dog chipped or their nose scanned, you’ll always have an option in the event that your dog strikes out on their own. Beyond that, understand what makes your dog unique and check your yard’s safety features regularly for holes or weak points. As usual, a little preparation now can save you a ton of time and energy in the long run.
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