Even your dog should maintain a healthy weight

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Talk about weight and obesity is everywhere these days. In fact, being overweight is bad for your health. We know it's true for humans. Doctors tell us it's true. Overweight and obese humans suffer from heart disease, diabetes, and bone and joint problems. It's common knowledge.

But did you know what your dog can be overweight, too? In fact, every extra pound costs your dog in risks to its health. As a responsible and loving dog owner, you should do everything you can to maintain a healthy diet and weight for your beloved pet.

You need to know that weight gain for dogs is even more harmful than it is for humans. Pound for-pound, weight gain is more dangerous for your dog. When you gain a pound or two, your clothes may get tight, but generally things stay the same. When your dog gains a pound or two, he's adding a significant amount. This extra weight costs him in energy, makes his heart work harder, and puts relatively more pressure on his bones and joints. And your dog can't tell you what it's doing to him. You may not learn about emerging serious health problems until the annual exam at your vet's office.

Physical problems resulting from obesity are just, if not more, serious for dogs as they are for people. Dogs can't give you information about how they feel, so they must be diagnosed by a vet. If they are ill, the cost of care may be much more than you had ever thought of. Yet, if you love your pet, you will spend what is necessary to avoid pain and early death. It stands to reason that keeping your dog healthy before problems begin is a good way to save a lot of heartache and a lot of money!

As with humans, being over-weight can significantly reduce your dog's chances of living a long life. It can also create health problems that reduce the quality of his life throughout. Loving pet owners take care to feed their dog a consistent, measured amount of nutritious food each day, provide regular exercise, and visit the veterinarian regularly.

If your dog looks a bit chubbier than he did a few weeks ago, or if his tummy is bulging, you may want to take him to see his physician - the vet. Regular visits will help you and your vet keep track of changes in his weight over time so that you catch tendencies to gain more quickly. It's much easier to prevent weight-gain in dogs than to reduce it. Most vets keep weight and growth records for their patients, and your vet can compare your dog's information with that of other dogs from the same breed. Your vet is the best source of information on your dog’s current condition, his ideal condition, and what you can do to assure a long, healthy life for your best friend.

Because you feed your dog, you are ultimately responsible for your dog's weight. If he's obese, it's because you feed him too much or don't give him the proper nutritious diet. It may also mean you're not paying enough attention to his exercise routine. If your dog is gaining weight despite a well-monitored diet, you should investigate the cause. He may have a medical condition that needs attention, or perhaps someone in your family is feeling him scraps from the table. Your neighbor could even been sneaking him treats while you're not looking!

Whatever the cause, it is very important that you control your dog's diet and maintain him at a healthy weight. Keeping your dog healthy will save you much money in the long run and give you a happy, healthy companion for years to come.

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