Obesity and Lack of Appetite in Dogs

Obesity and Lack of Appetite in Dogs
By Adam Conrad, Shihtzuexpert.com

One of the biggest indicators of your dog’s health is his or her relationship to food. If your pup eats too much and exercises too little, the resulting weight gain will cause them to become obese. On the other hand, some dogs struggle to work up the appetite to keep themselves at a healthy weight. These dogs can lose weight rapidly or not gain weight while growing, which can put them at risk of weakness and death.

How can I tell if my dog is obese or too thin?

Obesity in dogs is when your pet’s ribs can no longer be seen or felt, or when viewed from above your pet does not have a natural dip in the waist area. Your dog is too thin if you can see clearly defined ribs through their fur, their stomach caves in, or the lines of your dog’s bony structures are clearly visible in their face.

Will being obese or too thin hurt my dog?

Obesity can result in serious health problems, such as a shorter lifespan, even if your dog is only slightly overweight. Multiple aspects of your dog’s body are negatively impacted by excess body fat, including the strength of bones and flexibility of joints, the efficiency of the digestive tract, and the ability of the lungs and heart to do their critical jobs.

Low body weight also hurts your pup. If their fat content falls too low, dogs may become lethargic and sustain injuries to their hearts and lungs from low calorie consumption. Their muscles will wither and their fur may even begin to fall out, leaving them vulnerable to the cold and other animals. Their bodies may begin to leach nutrients from their bones, leaving them brittle and prone to breakage.

Is my dog at risk?

Obesity, just like in people, can affect any dog of any age, size, or breed, but it usually affects middle-aged dogs (between the ages of 5 to 10). Neutered and indoor dogs can have a higher chance of being obese, due to reduced exercise potential and fewer sex hormones from genitals.

On the other hand, dogs who are neglected or have parasites will have low body weight. These dogs are most likely very young or very old, and may start out as having ferocious energy and not enough food to sustain their activity.

How did my dog become obese/too thin?

It didn’t happen overnight. If your dog is obese, you probably fed it scraps from the table or far too much dry or wet dog food. You probably also didn’t take it for walks, letting it lead a sedentary life in your cosy home. But that doesn’t mean you don’t love your pet! In fact, an obese dog is very likely a much loved dog – it just needs a little help from you to become healthy again.

If your dog is thin, you haven’t fed it enough or have let it run itself ragged. Sometimes these dogs have worked themselves to nothing because they’re anxious or bored, or have picked up a parasite from another dog. Parasites especially can eliminate your dog’s appetite, leading to malnourishment and lethargy.

If you notice your pet losing weight, acting far less energetic than usual, or refusing food, rush them to your vet. They might have a type of intestinal worm, or they may have eaten something they shouldn’t and have an intestinal blockage that’s keeping them from digesting their foods or eliminating their bowels. These pups, in addition to refusing food, might also suffer from runny stools or vomiting spells. If you notice these symptoms in your pet, get them to a medical professional right away.

How do I help my dog recover?

If your dog is obese, the first thing you should know is not to immediately restrict their food. Doing so may lead your pet to desperation, causing them to root through the trash or steal food from the pantry. It can also damage your pet’s metabolism, making them require fewer calories and stumping your weight-loss efforts.

The best way to begin is to stop feeding them people food (if you have been previously) and start slowly reducing the amount of dry/wet dog food you feed them daily. Depending on the severity of your pet’s obesity, this may take weeks or months before your pet is eating the recommended amount for their breed and healthy weight. In addition to feeding them less, start taking your dog for a quick walk around the block every day.

If your dog is too obese to do even that, start slowly by feeding them at the bottom or top of a flight of stairs, so that they’ll be motivated to work in that amount of exercise each day. You’ll soon notice a change in your dog if you adopt these habits!

If your dog is too thin, first take them to the vet to rule out any medical issues. Then consider changing to a more appealing food (like wet or raw dog food) to entice your pet to eat. Their reluctance may be pure pickiness. In addition, monitor your pet’s exercise and make sure they have a spot to go rest when they need to. An active dog can be a very healthy one, but it’s crucial that they have the rest and nourishment to maintain their level of activity.

Following the above points can help your dog be as healthy as they were always meant to be! A healthy dog is a happy dog, and that starts with their stomach. An obese or thin dog may seem happy, but their best shot at life includes living at a healthy weight.

If you have concerns about your pet’s weight or health, always be sure to check with their vet before starting them on any weight-loss/-gain regimen. It’s always best to discuss food options, exercise habits, and general medical wellness with a professional before making the first step towards building a healthier life for your dog.