Did you know that over half of America’s dogs are overweight or obese?  Obesity leads to health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, and an increased risk of cancer.  It can also affect hair and skin health, immunity, breathing, and stamina.  If your dog is overweight, he needs to shed some pounds in order to avoid these.

How can I Tell if my Dog is Overweight?

Rub your fingers along your dog’s ribs.  Can you feel them?  If not, your dog is overweight.  For a healthy dog, there should be a nice, small padding of fat, but you should always be able to feel his ribs.

How can my Dog Lose Weight?

First of all, consult your veterinarian.  Ask him about a shortening or even change in diet.  You might be feeding your dog too much or need to switch over to a less fattening dog food.  Also, ask him about developing an exercise routine.  An overweight dog cannot handle a mile hike, nor should he be only given only a short walk around the yard.  You vet will tell you where to start and how to up the difficultly.

Cut out the Unhealthy Treats

People love to give dogs treats.  Unfortunately, many of these treats are very unhealthy.  Table scraps should never be fed to your dog; his stomach cannot handle them, and they are probably high in calories, fat, and salt.  Also, avoid store bought treats which are high in fat and calories.  Opt for some healthy treats: carrots, apples, blueberries, bananas pumpkin, etc.  (Never feed your dog anything with seeds as they could choke him.  Also, avoid grapes and onions as they are toxic to dogs.)  Remember, however, that there can be too much of a good thing.  Always feed healthy treats in small amounts.  Also, for however many treats you give, cut that out of the amount of food your dog should have that day.

Quick Tip: Hold Your Dog’s Collar

Sometimes, when you reach to grab a dog’s collar, he backs away.  He probably does this because such an action is often correlated with something unpleasant: a bath, being pulled away from an object, or being restrained.  This reaction, however, is inconvenient and perhaps dangerous.  Do you need to hold your dog back from licking a frightened toddler?  To keep him from running out of the door?  Avoid the car coming up your street?  If your dog won’t accept you handling his collar, he will scare the child, escape out of the door, or possibly be run over.  You need to teach your dog that you holding his collar is nothing to fuss about and can even be a rewarding experience.

If your dog is very wary of having his collar touched, you will have to work slowly.  While your dog is doing something he enjoys, such as eating a treat or playing with a toy, gently touch his collar.  Give your dog a verbal reward after you have done so.  After that your dog is comfortable with you simply touching his collar, work in the same way as described before but wrap a finger or two around his collar.  Eventually, you can up the time you keep your fingers around it until you can do it for some time.  Finally, start randomly slipping your hand through your dog’s collar, petting your dog while you do so, and give him a treat each time.  Slowly wean your dog off of treats as the days (or possibly weeks) go by until you can grab his collar, hold it for a few seconds, and then give your dog praise.

Even if your dog is only a little uncomfortable with having his collar touched, do the steps above, perhaps skipping the first, to make such an action as everyday as you pouring food into his bowl.

If your dog isn’t worried with you holding his collar, that’s great.  However, it might be a good idea to hold it for no apparent reason every so often.  This way, your dog won’t develop the idea that something unpleasant is about to occur.  Instead, he will think that it is an everyday event and nothing to worry about.

Why do Dogs Pant?

Dogs often pant in warm weather, while exercising, or during an exciting or stressful episode.  Sometimes, a panting dog looks like he is grinning from ear to ear!  However, dogs don’t pant to show that they’re happy.  It’s an essential ability which helps to keep us alive.

A Way to Keep Cool

Dogs only sweat from their paw pads.  With such small places to issue sweat, dogs would quickly become overheated without the aid of panting.  When panting, air circulates through a dog’s body, cooling him off.

Excessive Panting

Too much panting could be a sign that your dog is sick or suffering heatstroke.  He could have a heart problem, pneumonia, or been poisoned.  Excessive panting means that your dog needs to visit the vet, possibly immediately.  In the case of heatstroke, cover your dog with a wet towel, put the car A/C on, and rush him to the vet.

Stay out of the Sun

Even with the amazing ability to circulate air through our bodies, dogs should never be out in the heat for prolonged periods.  Too much heat can overwhelm us, which leads to heatstroke.  Provide an outdoor dog with cool water, shade, and even a fan, and avoid exercising during the hottest parts of the day or on asphalt.

The Dangers of Bloat

Gastric Dilation and Volvulus, commonly referred to as bloat, can kill your dog.  Happening mostly with large, deep chested dogs, it causes a dog’s stomach to twist due to excess gas, putting pressure on the organs and diaphragm and harming your dog’s breathing.  Though the exact cause of bloat is still uncertain, it can easily develop into a life-threatening situation.

Dogs that are more susceptible to bloat include the Great Dane, Bernese Mountain Dog, Boxer, Standard Poodle, Labrador Retriever, Mastiff, Bulldog, Rottweiler, German Shepherd, Blood Hound, Chow Chow, Setters, St. Bernard, and more.

Signs of Bloat

Bloat often happens after your dog has eaten and then exercised or has eaten too quickly.  His stomach might look enlarged and he could also have heavy panting, restlessness, drooling, being sensitive when his belly is touched, trying but unable to vomit, weak pulse, and pale nose and mouth.

If you think that your dog might have bloat, bring him to a veterinarian right away!

How to Prevent it

  • Never exercise your dog before or after a meal.
  • Don’t give your dog all of his food at once; break it up into smaller meals to be given 2-3 times a day.
  • Never allow your dog to wolf his food or water down.  If your dog is a quick eater, place a large rock or tennis ball in his bowl.  He will have to eat around the obstruction, making the process slower.
  • Don’t feed your dog table scraps.
  • Don’t let your large, deep-chested dog use a raised dog dish.  Not having to bend his neck over his food can cause him to swallow extra air, which could cause him to bloat.

Preventive Surgery

If you have a breed which is susceptible to bloat, your vet might suggest that he have surgery to prevent bloating.  Whether or not you do this is up to you, but it might be a thing to consider.  Bloat is highly dangerous when and if it happens.

Rosie’s Escape

Last weekend, the humans put Rosie in the fenced backyard for a potty break.  Then, after a while, they called her back in.  However, she didn’t come.  The gate had been left open, and Rosie had made an escape!  No golden pup appeared as my human yelled her name, and they started to go into panic mode.  One human was told to continue calling for Rosie in the backyard, while another went to the front.  Right at the front door, however, was Rosie, waiting to be let in like a good dog.  Thankfully, she hadn’t been in the mood for a stroll and had just wanted to be with her humans!