My Dog Has Really Picked Up Weight

Your handsome Labrador retriever Cooper has always been a ladies’ man. Six-year-old Cooper’s husky physique and shiny coat have always attracted the female dogs’ attention, and his energetic nature has kept him in good shape throughout the years. Lately, though, Cooper has gained several pounds of belly fat, making him move a bit more slowly. You’re concerned that Cooper’s extra weight can lead to medical problems such as diabetes, joint pain, and liver problems. You’d like to turn Cooper’s weight gain around now, so you’ve asked your Upper Arlington veterinarian to give Cooper some weight management advice. Learn more about dog weight management issues below.

Unofficial Weight Exam

First, give Cooper an unofficial weight exam. If he’s within his healthy weight range, you should be able to feel Cooper’s backbone and palpate his ribs. However, if you have to dig your hands into Cooper’s ribs before they’re apparent, he’s got some extra weight there. Also, when you stand over Cooper and look down, you should see a “waist” between the back of Cooper’s rib cage and his hips. If this body description doesn’t fit Cooper at all, it’s time to revamp his diet.

What’s Behind the Weight Gain

Just like you, if Cooper burns up all the calories he eats every day, he’ll likely remain within his healthy weight range. However, eating is probably the activity Cooper enjoys most. He quickly gobbles down his food, empties the cat’s bowl if he can reach it, and then looks for food scraps on the floor. Now that he’s expended a little energy, Cooper stretches out on the floor for a nap.

However, Cooper’s binge-eating calories have to go somewhere, so his body eventually stores them as fat. Unfortunately for Cooper, Labs and their smaller pug cousins top the list of dogs prone to weight problems. Also, regardless of the breed, older pooches tend to really accumulate the pounds.

Diet and Exercise Are Key

Your vet will help you get Cooper’s calorie consumption/burn numbers in balance. First, jot down everything Cooper eats each day; and also write down every bit of exercise your dog gets. While you’re tempted to fudge the numbers to make it look like Cooper eats less and exercises more, don’t do that, as the vet won’t get an accurate snapshot of Cooper’s habits. Once your vet reviews the data, he’ll prescribe a nutritionally complete food plan that considers Cooper’s age and activity level. Always feed Cooper from his own bowl, and follow your vet’s advice about treats.

Finally, get Cooper moving so he can burn more calories, decrease his appetite, and increase his resting metabolic rate. Ask your Upper Arlington vet about safe exercise options Cooper will enjoy.