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Help Your Dog Stay Fit and Trim

Consider your doggo’s nutrition like that of yours when it comes to unhealthy eating and health complications.

| July 2019

Photo from Adobe Stock/Family Business

Freedom from overfeeding may sound totally counterintuitive, but too much food is unhealthy, and poor health is a freedom inhibitor. Being overweight can have a whole range of negative health effects for dogs. It can cause inflammation, heart disease, arthritis, ligament and muscle injuries, breathing problems, and liver disease, all of which can compromise a dog’s health just as they do ours. It can make it less enjoyable for dogs to walk, run, and play and can thus reduce the overall quality of life.

It’s estimated that more than half of all dogs in the United States and the United Kingdom are overweight. Veterinarians talk about the canine obesity crisis in the same dire terms that public health experts talk about the human obesity crisis. Many consider obesity to be one of the top welfare concerns for pets. It’s no coincidence that dogs and people have grown fat together: We and our dogs eat a lot of junk food, we eat more than we need, and we don’t get enough physical exercise. Overfeeding is a form of mistreatment, and it can have serious consequences. Jessica heard a story from her local shelter about a dog who was adopted and brought back three months later after having gained forty pounds. He had to become part of the foster program; he needed a temporary home where he could be given extra physical exercise and brought back to a healthy weight before being adopted by another family.

Photo from Adobe Stock/Svetlana Serdiukova

Like humans, dogs can be both overfed and undernourished at the same time. Plenty of doggy “junk food” is available, such as the Pup-Peroni, Snausages, and Pup Corn dog treats lining pet store shelves, smartly packaged to appeal to human consumers. As with humans, a little bit of junk food probably won’t shorten your dog’s lifespan, but no one should live on donuts alone.

Think about what you put in your dog’s mouth just as you would think about what you put in your child’s mouth. Consider the nutritional profile of your dog’s food, not just the price, since as a rule, you get what you pay for. A great deal of the so-called food on the market is garbage. That said, a wide range of moderately priced high-quality foods are available. Do research and talk with your veterinarian about your dog’s specific nutritional needs, so you can find a food that provides appropriate nutrition and, of course, that your dog enjoys. Many pet stores will allow you to return food products if your dog doesn’t like them, so you and your dog can experiment.

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