• If your dog becomes overweight, he can acquire a host of health problems.

    If your dog eats too much and carries excess weight, he could develop other problems in addition to obesity. Joint problems, heart ailments and respiratory troubles can all affect an overweight dog. The good news is you have more control over your dog’s weight than you may realize. With the right dietary management, you can keep him in optimum condition despite his desire to eat.

    Is my dog too heavy?

    • Feel your dog's sides, just behind his shoulders. You should be able to feel your pet's ribs with just a little pressure from your fingers.
    • If you don't feel ribs but instead sense padding, your dog is most likely overweight.
    • If you do suspect your dog is too heavy, visit your veterinarian for an exam and to discuss a weight-reduction program. Your vet will most likely recommend that you take the dietary steps outlined here.
    Choose the right treats

    Just as with overweight people, your dog will become obese because he is taking in more calories than he burns.

    • Do not give your dog table scraps or fattening treats as these will contribute to his weight problem.
    • Opt for healthy treats.
    • Items such as carrots, broccoli, tomatoes and commercial low-calorie treats are good alternatives to more fattening goodies.
    • Even healthy treats should be given in moderation to avoid stomach upset.
    Consider quality and quantity

    It is important to always check with your veterinarian when changing your pet's diet.

    • Consider changing your dog's regular food to a low-calorie formula, or cut back on the amount of regular food your canine receives each day.
    • If your dog is overweight and you do not feed it a lot of treats, too much dog food may be the source of the problem.
    Get some exercise

    Be certain that your vet gives your dog a clean bill of health before you start an exercise regimen, especially if your pet is obese.

    • Giving your dog more exercise time every day will help him lose some of his excess poundage.
    • Take him for longer walks, and play with him more often in the yard or the park.
    Resist begging

    It is hard to say no to those pleading eyes, but resist the urge to give your dog snacks when you are eating.

    • If you feel guilty not sharing your meal with your dog, put your pet in a different room while you eat.
    • Save treats for rewarding good behavior and do so in moderation.

    As your dog's caretaker, it is your responsibility to make certain he stays in good condition throughout his life. Being vigilant about what you feed your dog will pay off in the long run with a healthy, happier canine.

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    The results of a recent survey indicated that 40% of America's pet population is overweight.