Harlequin Haven Great Dane Rescue

Harlequin Haven
Great Dane Rescue

11567 St. Rt. 774
Bethel, Ohio 45106

937-379-2231
Phone Hours - 9 AM - 8 PM
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info@hhdane.org

 

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Obesity

Your dog is a little heavy....So what? What is the harm feeding your pet table scraps, and / or over feeding your pet?

It is estimated that over 40 percent of the dogs in the United
States are over weight. A large percentage of owners of an obese dog fail to realize or accept that their dog's obesity is a problem. Even a larger percentage is unwilling to do anything about it.

The body (human and pet) is a wonderful well-balanced machine. When you tip that balance, through over feeding, the body can produce a number of side affects varying in severity. One of the most common side effects will be his energy level. Because he is carrying so much extra weight, our overweight dog will not have the ability, desire or strength to do much. He will mostly want to sit, or lay down and have a propensity to sleep. Movement will be difficult for him. His joints will hurt because his body was not designed to handle the excess weight. His heart will have difficulty pumping blood through his system. His body will be absorbing a high amount of fat, which will also effect how his heart distributes blood and nutrients through his system. His immune system may not function properly. His kidneys may be unable to excrete poisons effectively out of his system, which means he can develop all sorts of aliments--including diabetes. If he develops diabetes his ability to heal, his circulation, and his eyesight may all be at risk. Obesity can also cause lung, liver and heart diseases.

An interesting fact: Most obese dogs belong to obese owners.  Another interesting fact: A doggie diet usually helps owners to loose weight too!

In order to find a cure...first find the cause!

By far, the most common cause of obesity is overeating. When a dog exceeds his calorie requirement, the body absorbs that extra nutrition and turns it into fat cells (to be used at a later time).  But that time never comes, because the dog is continually fed excess calories.

What is the right amount of food for your pet?  First, consult your vet.  Feel your pet's ribs every two weeks. You do not want a pronounced rib cage (not feeding your dog enough) but rather a balance of fat and muscle. During winter months, dogs may need extra calories. Additionally, puppies, pregnant dogs, and active breed dogs all need extra calories.

Leaving out an unlimited supply of food causes a pet to over eat.  Do you know that dog food companies test foods to ensure the best palatability possible, enhancing the dog's desire to eat?.  Dog food companies have spent millions finding out what most dogs want to eat. (Your dog may have his own eating habits. This is simply a study of the dog species in general). Dogs prefer beef, pork, lamb, and chicken to cereal foods. They actually prefer canned meat to fresh meat, ground meat to cubed meat, and cooked meat to raw meat. Canned or semi-moist foods are preferred over dry food. Dogs have special preferences for combinations of sugar and meat.  Females (this is true for the human female too!) desire more sweetness (sugar) in their foods versus males. Studies have shown that the most important aspect to their dog food is not taste, but rather texture and odor of the food.

Another reason for over eating is that dogs get bored. I know that sounds a little bit silly, but it is true! What happens when a human becomes bored? They go forging inside the refrigerator or cupboard looking for something to do...eat. What is the most common cause for human obesity?  Eating when you are bored. Your dog does the same thing. When they are bored and their food dish is full, it gives them something to do...eat!

The first step in helping your dog to loose weight is talking to your veterinarian! The veterinarian will perform a medical exam so that s/he can rule out disease as the cause to your dog's weight gain.  Why is your dog overweight? One of the most common medical reasons is hormonal changes. These include a slow thyroid (hypothyroidism--also a common ailment for humans). Your veterinarian can rule out many medical reasons for obesity with a blood test.

The vet will most likely suggest changing the pet's food to a type that has less calories. Additionally, he will suggest a regular feeding schedule. Instead of leaving out a dish full of food, feed your dog a pre-measured amount at regular intervals.

Exercise:

Yes, the dirty word that a lot of over weight humans and dogs do not want to hear. A balanced diet and an increase in exercise will help your dog (and the owner) to lose weight. Just letting your dog outside will not work.  Because your dog is overweight, he will lay down and eventually go to sleep. The dog owner (you) must place a leash around his neck and briskly walk or run with your pet. Do take a long walk with your pet. Do jog with your dog.  Stop when your dog is pooped! If you do a little more each day, and stop over feeding your pet...you and your pet will be healthier and live a longer life! Again, the only person who can change the situation is you.


Summary:

The effect of obesity on dogs is exactly the same as in people:

Low energy; high stress on all of the internal organs; Increased risk in surgery Reduction in life span; Reduced heart function; Straining of the joints and tendons. Overweight dogs are more prone to musculoskeletal, circulatory, liver, and pancreatic disorders.  They have trouble cooling off in hot weather and are prone to heatstroke.  Muscle strength decreases, making mobility and sometimes even breathing a chore.

Have your dog checked by a veterinarian to rule out medical reasons for its weight!

Always reduce food, alter diet, and increase exercise IN MODERATION!! NEVER attempt any sudden drastic changes in diet or activity, or you could cause the dog severe injury and/or illness.

All images and text on this site Copyright 1998-2017 Harlequin Haven Great Dane Rescue, Inc. unless otherwise credited. Use of any image or text without written permission is expressly forbidden. All rights reserved.


 
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