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Obesity in Dogs

For many people, dogs provide an unparalleled sense of companionship. Loyal and loving, these pets have brought happiness to the homes of many American families. However, there is an epidemic in our nation concerning these four-legged friends: obesity. Studies have shown that the percentage of overweight dogs in the U.S. is more than thirty percent and is the leading nutrition-related health problem plaguing pets in our society. Obesity in dogs can cause a myriad of difficulties, such as severe strain on the hip joints, restricted breathing, and heart problems. These factors can contribute significantly to shortening the lifespan of the overweight dog and makes your pet more susceptible to illnesses such as diabetes, pneumonia, heart disease, and cancer. Though it may be difficult to deny your family pet extra food or snacks, owners must first realize that dogs are scavengers by nature and, while an empty bowl may trigger a browsing or begging reaction from them, it does not necessarily mean that they are still hungry. If the guilt of saying ?no? to Fido is too much to bear, try substituting low calorie vegetables such as carrots or green beans as long as they do not cause your pet an upset stomach. Rationing is the key here, and if you choose to share your pizza or burger with your dog, then cut back on his next meal. It is essential that dry food be a regular part of your pet?s diet, as well, because these foods are formulated with canine health in mind. In addition, it is important for owners to be aware that dog food higher in fat and protein are made specifically for pets with higher activity levels. Regular exercise is also a formidable weapon in combating canine obesity. Make sure to provide your pet the opportunity for prolonged exercise at least a couple times a week. If your schedule does not allow time for long walks, try playing fetch with your dog in the yard or placing him with a friend?s dog in a fenced area (providing they get along well, of course) and allowing them to play together for a while. Some dogs (like people) are naturally lazy and may just need a motivator such as these to increase their activity and burn calories. Though these changes in your dog?s daily regimen may be trying at first, keep in mind that avoiding or reducing obesity in your family pet will increase the quality of his life. Your dog and your family will surely thank you later.

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