Keep your dog at a healthy weight

by Latashni Gobi Nathan
published on 12 July 2016

An overweight dog is more at risk of having health problems.

Mr Sunny Chong, a professional animal trainer who owns his own training school said: “Animal obesity can cause or worsen musculoskeletal and cardiovascular problems, as well as glucose tolerance imbalances. It may also weaken the animal's immune system.”

Causes of weight gain in animals

Just like how humans have to try to lead a balanced lifestyle, so should your dog. Factors like food, exercise, stress, or even hormonal changes, can cause your dog to gain weight.

Mr Chong said: “Feeding too often, or overly generous portions and snacks to your dog between meals may cause your dog to gain weight. Some dog owners leave a big bowl of food for their dog to compensate for the time they are not at home.”

Feeding your dog leftover human food can also make your dog gain weight. Feeding your dog food it should not be consuming can introduce a higher level of protein and fat than it actually needs.

Not getting enough exercise can also cause your dog to put on weight.

Mr Chong added: “Spaying can also sometimes affect your dog’s metabolism. This may not affect all animals, and depends on factors like your dog’s age.”

Signs of unhealthy weight

One way you can check if your dog is overweight is to monitor its exercise intolerance. After running or exerting itself, does your dog get tired easily?

Dr Daniel Sing, a veterinarian, said: “Getting tired easily is a sign of unhealthiness. Bear in mind that being overweight makes your dog more predisposed to illnesses.”

To physically examine your dog, Dr Sing recommends rubbing your dog’s spine lightly. You should be able to feel the bone if your dog is at a healthy weight. If it is too prominent or cannot be felt, it means your dog is either too skinny or overweight.

Feeding the right amount

When selecting food for your dog, look out for food that has many healthy ingredients that can give your dog a well-balanced diet. Different breeds of dogs have different needs so check what suits your dog the best.

Dr Sing said: “Each pack of food will come with a recommended feeding amount. Use it as a guide while also considering its metabolism rate and size. If you are not too sure, monitor your dog’s weight over a short period. If your dog is either losing or gaining weight, alter the amount you give it.”

Getting enough exercise

Having a good consistent exercise routine is one of the best ways to keep your dog healthy. It is also a great way to bond with your dog.

Mr Chong said: “Take your dog for a 30-minute walk twice daily,  or jog or run with it two or three times a week. You can also bring it to an animal swimming pool. Some animal training schools even offer weight-loss programmes.”