4 Tips for Overweight Dogs

The Overweight Dog - 4 Healthy Encouraging Tips

You have a dog, and you want to encourage her and reward her when she does something good, but you have begun to notice that she is getting a little heavy. A dog who is even slightly overweight is much more prone to health issues than a dog who is of a healthy weight. Are there healthy ways to reward and encourage you dog, healthy ways that are not treats, but that she will still like? Yes there are. There are many ways to tell you dog she did well without adding extra inches to her waistline. Consider the following four tips on how to reward your dog without helping her pack on the pounds. 4 tips for overweight dogs

1. What Does a Little Extra Weight Mean?

What is a little extra weight? A few pounds? So what? We humans can gain and loose a few pounds in a single day. Are they really that much of a problem? Yes they are. A few pounds to a dog are a lot different than a few pounds are to a human. If an average human adult weights anywhere between 100 and 250 pounds, one or even five pounds is pretty inconsequential. One or five pounds in relation to a 15- pound dog is a big deal. Five pounds is a third of a 15-pound dog's weight. Can you imagine if you put on a third of your weight? You go to bed weighing 150 pounds and you wake up weighing 200 pounds? All the sudden those few extra pounds seem like a lot. A dog that weighs 20 pounds but should, at a healthy weight, weigh 15 now is prone to a medley of other health problems. Like what? Well first, her joints are over stressed. Those extra five pounds did not go in to making her joints stronger, but instead now her joints have to support that extra weight. Little things like a trip, or a misstep can now cause serious injury. Her heart is now also over stressed. Her heart has to work harder to get her blood throughout her body when she is 20 pounds than when she was 15 pounds.

2. But She Loves Treats

Your dog loves treats. You do not want to take that away from her, but then again, you do not want to endanger her health. While not all dogs are the same, there are many other alternatives to rewarding your dog with food. Once such alternative is affection. In some cases showing your dog affection can be more impactful than feeding her a treat. How? Some dogs get so excited about getting a treat that they will do anything to get it. My dog will run through all of the tricks he knows if you pull out a treat. When I have a treat he is not listening to me, only thinking about the treat. I could never train him to do something new if he knew I had a treat on me. Working with him, or issuing him a command and then giving lots of affection lets him know that he was a good dog, and he likes it. I have taught him to roll over and play dead, not by treat training, but instead training with affection.

3. Personal Time

Some dogs respond well if they get to be near you. Maybe they like to lie on the couch with you or maybe they like to sit at your feet. No doubt you do not always want your dog on the couch, but you can use her love for the couch to your advantage. You have to keep in mind however, that she can not do something good in the morning and then that night you reward her by spending time on the couch. She will not understand that that couch time is because of something she did several hours ago.

4. The Massage

Giving your dog a massage is another way of rewarding her. Massages are particularly good for senior dogs. As dogs age they can develop lumps and bumps on their skin, just like humans can. Unfortunately for dogs their skin is covered in fur, so it can be difficult to see those bumps. If you give your dog a massage (like you are kneading dough) you can detect those bumps. Some lumps are completely harmless, but others can be malignant. When you find a bump there is no reason to panic. Touch it; see how your dog reacts. Try and note the color, consistency and size. Monitor it over time. If it changes, contact your vet. Early detection and monitoring of such issues can increase your dog's longevity. But do not think that massages are just for senior dogs. Dogs who spend time in tick territory need massages too. You can find ticks while giving your dog a massage. How will you get your dog to sit still while you check all of her skin for bumps? Can you sit still for a massage? Your dog will love getting a massage. She will look forward to it and it is a great way to reward her for a job well done and keep her healthy at the same time.