Labradors retriever is the most popular dog species in America and other parts of the world. There is no doubt that many people love the dog, but there is a major challenge that owners of that dog have to contend with and that is the issue of obesity.
Labs are known to be fat and they grow fatter more than several other species. The problem is not only with American labs; it is a common phenomenon wherever they are found. The common solution to reduce dog’s fat is change in lifestyle by adding exercise, walks and a balanced low-fat diet.
The problem is that if you do not take urgent action to curb that problem the fatness would intensify. To know how to deal with that problem, you must know why do Labradors get fat in the first place. If you know that, then it would be easier to curb that problem.
The problem has occupied the attention of many people for the past decades including medical scientists. Efforts were not spared to discover the major reason this species of dog would always go fat.
Researchers have discovered that apart from several other likely causes, the reasons for lab obesity can be traced to the medical line.
The canine medical conditions which are often fronted as the major causes of this problem among the pets are hyperadrenocorticism, insulinoma as well as hypothyroidism.
Apart from that, medical researchers in the UK, particularly from Cambridge, found the major reasons for obese labs and that can be traced to what is known as POMC. It is a mutated gene form and it is one of the cause causes of obesity in rats. The same thing is also responsible for obesity in this dog species.
The researchers were able to prove to the extent that can cause this problem. POMC does not act directly, meaning that it does not cause it on its own rather it makes it harder for the dogs to know when they had enough food.
Because of that, they would continue to eat beyond what their body system has to capacity to contain. The excess is stored in other parts of the body where they result in fat.
This gene is the cause of that problem and these researchers also discovered that it was gene passed on to the labs during the breeding process. The genes also as it has its disadvantages are helpful for the pets because it can accelerate the rate of understanding and training of the animal.
The intention of introducing that trait is to make it easier for the dogs to be trained. The negative aspect of it is that it makes the dog obese and this comes with lots of health challenges.
How to tell that your dog is getting fat?
Since obesity can short cut the lifespan of the dog, you must help it a lot of sheds the excess weight. One of the ways of doing that is to monitor closely and to help it change the lifestyle especially those things that can assist them to shed the excess weight in them.
Some physical characteristics can convince you that your dog is getting fat and that you need to help it get out of that.
The first place to notice that change in weight is the belly. You can tell when it is protruding or sloping towards its groin. Furthermore, it can be parallel to the ground. Furthermore, the belly can sag between the four legs.
Furthermore, when you look at the pet from the top, check whether there is any waistline in its hips, the differences in width would be easily noticed.
Moreover, check whether you can perceive the ribs when the animal is standing still. When the dog is thin, you can perceive the rib when you are not able to perceive such, it then means that the animal is getting too fat and you must do something to help it deal with that problem.
Eating too much
The finding above suggests that the major cause of lab fatness is that the animal tends to eat too much. It is not able to control the appetite then the negative consequence is that it is going to be fat with the attendant health consequences.
There are other different ways of telling when the dog is getting fat. You can tell by merely observing it and by touching it. If after considering it and checking all the ribs, you can tell when it is getting out of hand.
If the dog slim he is going to be healthier than when he is overweight. When the animal is obese some health complications are associated with it.
What should be the Labrador’s weight?
This is the most important aspect if you want the animal to be healthy. You must first determine what should be the rightful weight the pet should have and what you should do to ensure that it does not go beyond or below that.
However, it is not easy to tell what should be the proper weight because the animals have different lifestyles and they are utilized for different purposes. There are different bred and some of them are meant for field activities while there are others which are meant for the bench.
Moreover, some are tall while others are short. Just as there are different sexes of the pet. These differences also have implications when it comes to weight. It might not easy to conclude that this should be the ideal weight. It depends.
You can tell when the weight is getting out of hand and when help is needed. However, it is conservatively estimated that the average weight should be anything within the range of 55 to 88 lbs. irrespective of the bred and lifestyle.
When it is getting below that figure there is likely going to be a problem but when it is getting above that, then it is crossing towards the danger line. Pet owners must check to ensure that this animal does not get overweight.
It is also important to stress that male labs are often heavier than the female. The differences in weight should be around 5 to 10 lbs. If you have not formed the habit of checking the pet weight, then you can start that today. Incidentally, lots of vet doctors out there come with the correct weighing scale.
What are the other reasons that make the dog fat?
You have seen the medical factor. Other factors cause fatness. As said earlier, if you know the cause of a problem, it is pretty easier to work out the solution to that problem.
#1 Lack of exercise
It is not only in humans that exercises are very important. It is more important in active animals like dogs, especially labs. The dog is known to live a very active life and there is the need to take its exercises regularly.
If it does that, it is going to have some health benefits. There is always a problem when the dog does not exercise. It is going to make it dull. The worst is that it is going to make it overweight which is the problem at hand.
#2 Medical problem
Another thing that causes that problem is when the dog is suffering from some medical challenges. It is already stated that some medical conditions in the pet can cause this kind of problem and they include insulinoma, hypothyroidism as well as hyperadrenocorticism and so on.
If the animal is suffering from any of the conditions, then the next thing that will result is the issue of overweight. The problem can be random in some dogs.
Because it is associated with medical conditions. Sometimes, it can be unexpected. When this becomes the problem, the best thing that you can do to help that dog out is to take the animal the veterinary doctor who can examine him to determine what could cause the health challenges.
There are instances where dogs become overweight after being neutered. When this becomes the problem, you can deal with that instantly by changing the feeding habit.
#3 Overeating problem
When the dog is overweight, you should expect it to be hungry most of the times and because of that, the tendency to eat most of them is always there. This is a huge problem that you must curb if you an owner of this species.
You have seen that because of the gene or trait in them the tendency to eat every time is always there. It depends on how you can manage that situation right from time. If you allow the pet to go overweight because of overfeeding, it might be difficult to deal with that problem without affecting the health.
The best thing to do is control the eating habit right from the beginning. If you can curtail the eating habit, then you can prolong the lifespan of this animal.
The truth which you must know is that when the animal is overweight, then there is the need to curb the eating habit. Ensure that it gets used to the new eating regime you will put in place.
Is the weight affecting health?
If your labs are engaged in activities that demand plenty of energy, then it might not be a problem when it gains weight. However, the problem is there when that is affecting health.
If the weight is affecting the health, then something must be done in time to control that situation. When on the other hand that the weight is not translating to more weight and it does affect the health of the animal, then there is nothing to worry about.
The most important thing is to ensure that you do not overfeed it and ensure that it sticks to the eating regime. You must always have your eyes on the dog to ensure that its weight does not become a problem.
Consequences of obesity in dogs
Labrador obesity is not good. Just the way obesity or overweight is not good in man, in the same way, it is not for the dog for the labs and other dogs.
The major problem with it is the negative health implications. Research has shown that it can cut the life when it is not yet time.
Overweight is not good for the animal because it can affect the other parts such as the heart, joint and so on. The worst is that it can make it lazy and less productive.
When that becomes the problem, it is going to be extremely difficult for that animal to exercise. There is an indication that obesity is a factor in pet hip dysplasia.
The worst aspect is that it does not take time before this dog passes the line. A few pounds can make it overweight and complicated conditions that are often associated with it.
How to help Labradors lose weight?
If you have identified that the problem is excess fat, then the next thing to do is to plan the best way to get rid of that excess fat from the system. There are different ways of doing that, but you must be patient to achieve the expected results.
The most thing that you must do is that the dog only consumed what you fed it with. It does things that you allow it to do.
Therefore, if you want the animal to shed that excess weight, then a lot depends on you. You must change the style and the way you handle it.
Controlling the portions that you serve that pet depends on the owner. The dog does not feed itself.
The first thing to do is to determine the right quantity of food to serve the animal. You should not overfeed or underfeed it. There must always be a balance.
Determine the right quantity to serve per day and per meal. Ensure that you maintain the right proportion and at the right time.
Besides, do not ignore the type of food you serve the animal. Foods are not the same when it comes to nutrients and calories.
Ensure that they are not garbage. Always go for those foods that have great nutritional values, your pet would be healthier for that without consuming garbage.
The most important thing is to ensure that you provide your dog with the correct food and keep track of progress. You can achieve a good result in the end.
To determine the progress, you must use a weighing scale to determine the weight. Remember that dogs are not humans when it comes to weight.
When the animals lose 2 or 3 pounds’ weight, it can make a great difference. The most important thing here is to measure the progress and you can do that when you use the weighing scale.
The likely challenge that you are going to face when you are controlling the weight is that it is always going to be hungry. This should not worry you because this species of animal would always be hungry.
Slim labs are always healthier
You must continue with the monitoring exercise until you achieve what you want. Slim dogs are always better and healthier.
The problem with the overweight issue is that any health problem can develop at any time. You are not sure of what you could do when such complication arises.
It can bring out other hidden health conditions and when that becomes an issue, it would be difficult to manage them. The dogs eventually may no longer be happy in the older days.
Slim dogs are better because they can live longer. They are healthier and they are more likely to feel weak and this means that they are no longer going to be active.
How to reduce dog food?
The major problem that you must face is how best to reduce the quantities of food you serve the animal. They like eating huge quantities of food.
The problem is that if you do not start curbing that habit in time, it would be extremely difficult to do that when it forms that habit. Because of that, you must learn how to do that without endangering life.
If the dog has formed the habit of heavy food, the animal would certainly be feeling hungry. You must ensure that does not affect him. You can introduce snacks which can make him be filled most of the time.
A word of caution here, why it is necessary to introduce fillers, you must ensure that they are those that do not compound the weight situation. Look for those that do not add anything to the body.
Because of that, you must consult your vet for professional advice to ensure that you do not make any mistake which could affect the health. Furthermore, you must learn the best times to serve the fillers.
Usually, it is served in between meals. If the dog is used to that, the problem of excessive hunger would no longer be there.
If you have formed the habit of using food to reward your dog, while it is not necessary to stop the habit, you must look for a way of taking that quantity from the daily food allowance. You must not allow excess food consumption.
Furthermore, it is not always good to use food as a reward. There are several alternatives that you must consider.
You must carry out research to determine the other ways of rewarding your pet when it does well. Ensure that the incentive you give is worth it.
Before you tamper with your pet feeding habit, you must consult with the vet doctor to know the right way to go about it. The most important thing is to ensure that your animal losses the excess weight in a healthy way.
Something was said before about recording the weight loss progress. This can guide you as to how you can reduce the quantity of food you healthily serve the pet.
How to Monitor Reduction in Dog’s Food
If it is possible you can take a photo of the animal as it progresses in the weight loss efforts. If you want to control the food ration, you can do that for three to four days and watch the progress you have achieved so far.
When you have done that process for three to four days, you have to check the dog to know the level of progress you have achieved. You should not overdo it.
You should know the right time to stop. The most important thing is to ensure that the dog does not slide to the overeating habit. If you can do that, you would achieve the kind of healthy dog you have always envisaged to achieve.
The ribcage is always a good way to know whether the animal is gaining or reducing weight. If you think that food reduction is having a negative impact, then you can slightly increase it to make the animal happy.
When you are doing that and you notice the reduction in food ration does not bring the desired results, then you can go ahead and reduce the quantity further.
However, remember that your vet doctor has an important role to play here. If you think that your efforts to bring the desired weight is achieving the expected result, you can change your method, but you must be guided by experts.
This means that you must always take along your doctor’s advice with you. Achieving a healthier, slimmer and stronger Labradors should be your objective.
If you manage the animal very well, you are going to enjoy it. Many people across the world found this species very useful.
If you can manage the health issue, you would see that labs are the next to man compared to other animals their level of importance.
Dogs are always happy when they have a responsible owner. Responsible owners are those that take positive actions about the type of food such pets consume.
If your dog is always happy with you, they do not worry about the food they consume especially the portion size. If you follow the instructions provided above, you can become a responsible pet owner by taking care of your pet weight challenge and other related issues associated with it.