How To Begin A Weight-Reduction Program For Your Dog

FOCUS ON PETS

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One thing I am constantly preaching about is overweight dogs. Often the owners of those overweight dogs are not happy with me for mentioning it, and most adamantly, they will deny the obvious. The people who do the overfeeding tend to be the last to notice that their dog has blossomed to an unhealthy state.

The problem of obesity is rampant in school-age children. Instead of being out running around with their dogs, they are sitting in front of a computer or television. And they are eating things they should not be eating.

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Looking at your dog from above, you should see an obvious indentation behind the rib cage. This is his waist and if you do not see and feel it, your dog is very likely overweight.

People and pets who are overweight are more likely to have arthritis, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, respiratory problems, pancreatitis, weakened immunity, anesthesia and surgical complications and most importantly, a shorter life. Disorders related to obesity are the fourth leading cause of death for dogs, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

You might think that people who are overweight would have overweight pets. However, my informal observational survey indicates that often times, people who are in good physical condition, and are quite proud of it, are the ones who have overweight dogs. On the other hand, overweight people, according to my informal observational survey, tend to have overweight children. I have no conclusion to draw from that informal observation.

It is very easy to determine if you pet is overweight. Stand over him and look down on him. You should be able to see a noticeable indentation behind the rib cage. Just like us, dogs and cats should have a waistline. Next, put your thumbs on his backbone, hopefully you can find it, and run your fingers along both sides over his rib cage. If you cannot feel the ribs, you know you have done wrong. You should be able to feel the ribs and a slight indentation between the ribs.

If you find that your pet is overweight, he is among the 50% of pets that are in that unhealthy state. This calls for a commitment to change.

Solution

The solution to an overweight problem is simple. Eat less and exercise more. Our pets depend on us to make that change. What ever amount of food you are feeding, if your pet is overweight, it is too much. Too often we are quick to reduce the size of meals but we do not reduce the quantity of treats.

To begin a weight reduction program for your pet, take a look at the total amount of food, he consumes in a day. This would include the carrots he eats while you are preparing your dinner and the total number of treats. Try measuring everything you and the rest of the family normally give your dog each day. You just might be surprised.

You know that if he is overweight, you have to reduce that amount. He needs his kibble because that, if it is a good food, will provide his daily nutritional requirements. The snacks and other things are not necessary. Since we are determined to give our dogs treats, we should be sure that they are healthy with no artificial color, flavor or preservatives, and that they are very small in quantity.

Feed less. Exercise more. Eat healthier. The same rules apply to all of us.

Some upcoming events:

Spay and neuter mobile unit will be in Payson on Thursday Oct. 11. Call the Payson Humane Society for all the details. 928 474-5590.

Blues Dog Walk is Saturday, October 13, beginning at the Pine Trail Head. Stop by Blues Gallery in Pine for sign up information.

Feral Cat Day is Tuesday, Oct. 16. The Friends of Ferals just received more traps. This is a wonderful program. If you have ferals in your neighborhood, learn what you can do to help. Call the PHS -- 928 474-5590.

Dog Day in the Park, sponsored by PAWS, is Saturday, Oct. 20, at the Payson Off-Leash Dog Park. There will be lots of opportunities to have fun with your dog, but also to learn about training, grooming and feeding your pets.

The Payson Humane Society's Chili supper is Tuesday, Nov. 13. Put the date on your calendar.

Christy Powers is a columnist for the Payson Roundup. She can be reached by e-mail at cpwrather@earthlink.net or by snail mail at HC1 Box 210, Strawberry, AZ 85544.

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