Forty percent of dogs are considered obese in the UK. While this is enough to warrant an epidemic, the problem stems from a combination of owners not recognising when their own dog is overweight, and not understanding how little weight a dog needs to gain before their health is at risk.
While the health risks of obesity in dogs can be life threatening, it is also a problem which, if kept in check, is relatively easy to avoid.
Health Risks of Obesity
Each breed of dog typically has an ideal adult weight range, says pet nutrition experts James Wellbeloved. As a general rule, if your dog falls under the recommended weight range, they are too thin. Likewise, if they exceed the weight range, they are considered overweight to an unhealthy degree. Sometimes this is only the difference of a few kilogrammes, so owners need to be vigilant and weigh their pet regularly.
Obesity is a very serious problem in dogs and can very quickly lead to long-term health issues, including high blood pressure, increased risk of cancer, diabetes, liver disease, and osteoarthritis. It is also likely to lower the effectiveness of their immune system, increasing the risk of harm from other illnesses and diseases.
Signs Your Dog Is Overweight
The easiest way to tell if your dog is overweight is to go to the vet. However, you should be able to approximate your dog’s condition without the vet, too, so you can ensure your dog is inside their healthy weight range.
1. Find an online dog weight chart and learn the ideal weight range of your dog according to their breed and sex. Weigh your dog and compare.
2. Dogs should have a visibly tapering waistline when viewed from above, and a tucked abdomen from the side. If you can’t see either, your dog is probably overweight.
3. If your dog struggles to get to their feet, fatigues easily on walks, or has trouble breathing, obesity could be a factor.
4. If you can see your dog’s ribs and spine without touching them, they are too thin. Conversely, if you struggle to feel their ribs through the layers of fat and muscle, they are too heavy.
Staying at A Healthy Weight
Like humans, the key to any healthy dog diet is a balance between eating healthy food, eating regularly and not to excess, and staying exercised.
• Feed your dog purpose-made food that is suitable for their age and size. Dogs need different levels of nutrition at different stages of life.
• Feed your dog at regular times each day, and never exceed the recommended daily amount, unless your vet has explicitly advised to do so.
• Avoid giving your dog excessive treats.
• Cut out table scraps. They are disruptive to the diet and encourage bad eating habits.
• Exercise your dog every day with quality walks and regular play.
• Know what your dog’s ideal weight should be, weigh your dog regularly, and schedule regular check-ups with your vet.
It doesn’t take much for your dog to become overweight and have their health put at risk. Keep them happy and healthy by remaining vigilant about their size, only feed them a healthy diet, and substitute the treats for regular play and affection.
Dogs are not like people. Dogs can be cuter, funnier, more honest and loving. That goes without saying. But unlike people, you can’t tell your dog to keep that bandage on all the time. We all know how difficult it is playing with an injured dog, but if your dog goes through a surgery or has an injury, you’ll need to bandage that injured limb yourself. Easier said than done, right? With all that fluffy fur, flexible body, and the shape of their paw, good luck trying to keep that bandage from coming off.
To see how to bandage paws, watch our Bandaging Dog Paws video.
To keep the bandage on despite the dog’s best efforts to throw it off, chew at it, and get it dirty, you’ll need a sound strategy. Your strategy should combine good materials, excellent technique, and applying the right amount of pressure to make it tricky even for the pooch to shake it off. For materials, you should have cotton wadding, sterile dressing pads, gauze for wrapping, elastic bandages preferably the ones that are self-adhesive, and an adhesive tape. You can get all these materials online or from your vet clinic.
To achieve your goal of bandaging the dog’s paw the right way and keeping that bandage on you’ll need to apply the right tension. Too tight and it will hurt the dog, too loose and it will slip off a few minutes later. This is vital just like food for sensitive stomach. The golden rule here is to use layers of cotton wads and wrap them with gauze using moderate pressure. When done slip a finger under the bandage. If the dressing grips your finger but allows you to touch the dog’s paw, then you’ve done it right.
Keeping it on
Now that you know how to bandage the paw, you need to know how to keep it on. For starters make sure the dog’s paw is clean and dry. Keep him indoors most of the time to keep the bandage from getting dirty. You can even get them an orthopedic dog bed so they can rest and heal faster. If you have to take the dog out, cover the bandage with a plastic bag. If the dog tends to chew at the bandage check if it’s too tight then use an Elizabethan collar (aka the 'cone of shame'!) to stop him gnawing it off.
Taking care of your dog’s injured paw requires a lot of patience and skill. But if you follow these tips you’ll pull it off and prevent the dog from pulling it off.
We have a number of Dog First Aid videos, including
What you should keep in a Canine First Aid Kit
Emergency Tail Bandaging
CPR for dogs
and How to remove Ticks safely
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