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The Pudgy Pooch

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Date: Thu, 13 Jul 2006 Time: 12:00 AM

By Mike MathewsFat dogs are likely to end up with serious dog health problems. Ask yourself these three questions. Is your dog starting to look a little overweight? Is it difficult to feel your dog's ribs? Has your dog gained a few extra pounds in the last year? If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions then maybe it is time to start thinking about a weight control program for your dog.

A pound or two weight gain for a small dog is equivalent to 15 or 20 pounds for an adult person. Overweight or fat dogs are at serious risk for developing or aggravating a wide-range of health problems. These dog health problems include: musculoskeletal disorders including hip and elbow dysplasia, arthritis, spinal disc problems and joint and ligament ruptures; heart, kidney and liver diseases; diabetes; breathing and respiratory problems; increased intolerance to heat and exercise; poor coat and skin disease; and increased surgical and anesthetic risk. Excess weight can reduce the life expectancy of your dog by as much as 20%.

The fat dog or pudgy pooch weight control program is really based on a very simple equation. In order for your dog to lose weight, you must reduce the number of calories he eats while increasing the number of calories he burns through increased activity. As one popular truism states - “If your dog is too fat, you aren't getting enough exercise”. As you begin to develop your dog's weight control program, you should make a list of the reasons that probably contributed to your dog's excess weight. These reasons might include: too little exercise; feeding your dog too much dog food; feeding your dog table scraps and leftovers; and giving your dog food and treats as rewards for good behavior. Some dog breeds such as the American and English Cocker Spaniels seem to process their food efficiently and are subject to weight gain. You must watch their food intake carefully.

The first step in your weight control program is to visit your veterinarian and have him or her weigh your dog and set a healthy target weight. Ask your vet to do a blood test to rule out metabolic disorders such as hypothyroidism which may be contributing to weight gain and which can be readily treated. Then, in conjunction with your vet, decide on which dog food approach to use. You can either reduce the intake calories by cutting back on your existing dog food by 25% or you can switch to a reduced calorie dog food . If you switch to a calorie reduced dog food, then make sure you buy a high quality dog food that doesn't have too much ash and will provide good nutrition for your dog. Ask your vet whether it would be beneficial to add a vitamin/mineral/fatty acid supplement to your dog's diet.

Next ask your vet to make sure your dog is healthy enough to tolerate an increased amount of exercise and activity. There are a number of activities that you and your dog can participate in that will result in burning up more calories. Other ways to burn calories are by simply increasing the frequency of exercise and play sessions or by increasing the duration of the exercise period. In other words - more walks or longer walks. Remember to keep monitoring your dog's food intake. Don't let other family members reward him with dog treats - buy your dog chewy toys instead!

Finally you need to monitor the progress of your weight control program by weighing your dog every two weeks on a regular basis. Before long you will be enjoying the benefits of a healthier, happier and more active companion.

About the Author

Mike Mathews is a contributing writer and editor for the popular dog breed site: . He provides informative, real-world advice and tips on dog breeds, dog health , dog grooming and more. As well be sure to check out his free report on Dog Training. Source:

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