A report from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention said that in 2017 more than 50% of the dogs in the U.S. were obese. This is an astounding statistic, but if you own a breed that's naturally large—like an akita inu—you may have missed the signs. Is your dog's ribcage no longer palpable? Does he or she have a distended abdomen? Does he or she seem lethargic or uninterested in playing? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, your dog may be overweight or obese. Here's how you can take care of the issue.
Visit a Vet in Your Area
You'll want to visit a veterinarian in your area so that your dog can be tested for serious issues. Like humans, excess weight in dogs can cause:
arthritis and other joint problems
skin and hygiene issues
Your veterinarian can check your dog for life-threatening issues and prescribe medication that can help ease these ailments. He or she will likely outline a diet and exercise plan for your dog. Since you are the pet owner, it will be your responsibility to make sure you carry out this plan. Diet changes and exercise typically fix the problem. In very rare cases a vet may prescribe a medication like dirlotapide, which can help curb your dog's appetite.
Don't be a Pushover When it Comes to Treats
Dogs often become overweight because their owners spoil them too much. You don't have to stop treats altogether, but you should be mindful of what your breed should be eating every day. For instance, the AKC says that treats should not make up more than 10% of your dog's diet. Many pet foods and treat bags have calories and feeding guidelines so you can figure out what would be appropriate for your dog. Double-check with the vet to make sure that the foods you buy fit into the prescribed diet and exercise plan.
Make Daily Walks a Priority
After a full day of work or school, the last thing you may want to do is walk your dog -- but walking with your dog is so important. Even small breeds usually require a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise. If you have an incredibly active herding dog, like a collie, then he or she may need two hours of good activity. If a long walk is too much to start with for either you or your pet, at least play fetch or let your dog out in the yard more so he or she can exert pent-up energy.
Excess weight can make your dog miserable and shorten his or her lifespan. Contact a vet and help your dog get down to a healthy size. For more information, you can contact clinics like the Seattle Emergency Veterinary Hospital.