Tips for Feeding an Overweight Dog

Sometimes it's easy to let your dog become overweight - especially since food is one thing they're always excited about.

But obesity is one of the most common nutritional disorders among dogs, and it can have serious negative effects on their quality of life. The good news is, once obesity is noticed, it's relatively simple to correct.

How can you know if your pet is overweight?

While the clinical definition for obesity in a dog is weighing 20% more than his ideal body weight, it can be hard to recognize with the naked eye. Check for some of the warning signs of obesity, such as extra fat covering his ribs, a hanging tummy or lack of a discernible waist.

Dogs become overweight for the same reason the rest of us do - they consume more calories than they burn. However, some breeds - such as beagles, basset hounds, dachshunds and labs - are genetically predisposed to weight gain and need to be monitored more closely. Hormonal disorders, including thyroid or pituitary dysfunctions, can also lead to obesity, while neutering, or spaying your pet may slow their metabolism too. All of these cases will require some extra love and attention to keep your dog fit.

Seeing a veterinarian is always recommended, but you might want to start by making changes in your current routine with your pet. Limit treats and make sure no one in your family is feeding table scraps - those aren't good for dogs anyway.

Small changes, like measuring servings, smaller meals, or even switching to a reduced-calorie pet food, such as Purina ONE Healthy Weight Formula, will help keep your dog satisfied without being overfed. And always remember, treats should make up less than 10% of your pet's daily calories.

Remember, helping your pet lose weight doesn't have to mean less fun. For him, it means more walks, more fetch and more new tricks to learn.