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Though there aren’t any weight watcher programs for dogs, it is still possible for your dog to be overweight. Dogs, like humans, need a healthy, balanced diet and plenty of exercise to maintain a healthy figure and to ensure a long, fulfilling life. Also like humans, dogs are susceptible to dangerous conditions that result from obesity, including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart conditions and stroke. If you are concerned about your pup’s weight, it might be a good idea to have a veterinarian take a look at him just to be sure. If the vet determines that your dog is, in fact, over the normal weight, he or she will put your pup on a strict diet and recommend a certain exercise regime.

However, there are ways that you can tell if your pup is overweight on your own too. Look for the signs of an overweight dog below to make sure your pup doesn’t demonstrate any of them and, if he does, to get him on a healthier routine before he experiences any major health complications.

Signs of Unhealthy Weight Gain and Obesity

Your Dog Has No Definition

Dogs can have a figure too! In fact, dogs, no matter their breed, should have a figure. This means that you should be able to look down on him and see a clear outline of his hips, waist and shoulders. His waist should be tapered and thinner than the rest of his body (but not too thin, because that’s unhealthy too!). If your pup looks like a blob or a sausage link, he is overweight and you should contact a veterinary professional at the United Veterinary Center right away for advice.

Your Pup Has Trouble Breathing

Trouble breathing is a very bad sign indeed. If your pup wheezes after walking short distances, breathes heavily when eating or has trouble pushing air in and out of his lungs after performing the most basic of tasks, it’s time to put him on a diet. Trouble breathing is an indicator of clogged arteries, which can quickly lead to more extensive health issues.

You Can’t Feel Your Dog’s Ribs

While you don’t want to be able to see your pup’s ribs, you certainly want to be able to feel them when you pet him. Stroke your dog’s fur and determine whether or not you can feel his ribs through a thin layer of muscle or fat. If you have to press too hard, your dog may be slightly overweight.

Your Pup Can’t Groom Himself

Dogs should be able to groom themselves naturally without trouble, and if yours is struggling to reach all the necessary places, he is overweight. Not only is this bad for his internal health, but the inability to groom himself means that he is susceptible to skin conditions, mites and other parasites as well.

Your Dog is Constipated

Dogs on a healthy diet are regular, but dogs that are overweight tend to be constipated and gassy. If your dog is regularly stinking up the house, or if you’ve noticed that you haven’t picked up after your dog in awhile, look for other signs of weight gain to determine if that is the problem. If the other signs don’t add up, your dog may have another present condition, which you should have checked out by your vet right away.

Your Pup Has Trouble Moving

If your furry friend isn’t as active as he once was yet he’s still young, it may be because of his diet. Moreover, if your dog demonstrates difficulty moving around, such as hopping up and down from the couch, moving towards his food bowl or even rolling over, he is definitely overweight and should be seen by a vet right away.


Getting Your Pup Back On Track

If your puppy is overweight, there are steps you can take at home to get him back to a healthy weight right away. Use these seven tips to guide your dog back to a healthy lifestyle:

Measure Meals

Veterinarians recommend a certain amount of food for each individual dog because they know what is healthy and what is not. That being said, the best tool you have against weight gain is a measuring cup. Never “guestimate” how much food your dog should have—always measure it out. If your vet recommends one cup a serving, three servings a day, give him precisely that. Giving him too much at once (as in all three servings at once) will make it more difficult for him to digest and will slow down his metabolism.

Calculate Calories

Another way you can determine how much your pup needs to eat each day to remain healthy, calculate the amount of calories he should be taking in each day. And don’t think you can trust the numbers on the dog food bag, as those guidelines are formulated for un-spayed or un-neutered, active adult dogs. If your pooch is older and neutered, and if he spends most of his days indoors, you may be feeding him one to two cups too many each day, which can result in significant weight gain. Ask your veterinarian how many calories your pup should consume each day or calculate it yourself by using the following formula: [(pet’s weight in lbs/2.2) x 30] +70. This should give you a general idea of how many calories it is safe for your pet to consume each day.

Cut Out Carbs

If you were trying to lose weight, what would be the first thing you’d eliminate from your diet? Chances are you said carbs. Eliminate carbs from your pooch’s diet by buying low- or no-grain foods that are high in protein. You’ll be surprised by how quickly he begins to shed those pounds!

Treat Him Tactically

Are you big on giving your friend treats for every little accomplishment he makes, or even “just because”? While your pup may love you for this, it can be extremely detrimental to his health, as dog treats are generally high in calories, sugar and fats (hence, why they’re so delicious). If you want to continue treating your pet, opt for all natural solutions, like chicken treats or natural jerky. Hand them out sparingly too, as anything in excess can pose health complications.

Don’t Skimp on the Veggies

It’s understandable that your pooch loves his beef, but if you want him to grow big and healthy (and big as in strong, not overweight), make sure he has a balanced diet of protein and vegetables. You don’t even have to worry about finding vegetarian dog food either—just head on over to your local farmer’s market and grab some carrots, celery, broccoli, cucumbers or anything with a crunch that your dog will love to chew on, and that will give him his much needed dose of vegetables.

Consider Supplements

If your pooch is severely overweight, you might want to talk to your veterinarian about vitamin supplements. Supplements such as daily omega-3 fatty acid and fish oil help to keep the pounds off, and have even been proven to prevent and treat numerous diseases. L-carnitine aids with weight gain and promotes lean muscle mass, so as your vet about this as well.

Get Moving

Finally, your efforts will only be as successful as how hard you work. If you’re serious about helping your pup shed those pounds, put on your jogging shorts and get jogging, pet in tow. Start small by taking your dog on a short walk through the neighborhood. Increase your distance by fifteen or so more feet each day. It may seem insignificant, but before you know it, you and your pup will be doing laps around the neighborhood with ease. He’ll be all the healthier for your efforts, and so will you!


Consult the Professionals at the United Veterinary Center

At the United Veterinary Center, we’re concerned about your pup’s health, and you should be too. If you notice signs of unhealthy weight gain in your pooch, consult with a dog health care professional at our animal clinic about what you need to do to help your dog shed those pounds. While the above advice can certainly help you help your dog, they are simply guidelines. Each dog is different, so before you make any major changes in your dog’s routine, schedule a visit with our caring veterinarians today.


Owning and caring for a rabbit is much different than owning a cat or a dog, as even pet bunnies are similar in nature—and therefore, require similar needs—as wild rabbits. Though a huge undertaking, if you care for your pet properly, you will find that your hard work will have paid off, as rabbits can live for as long as 8 to 12 years. With that said, while many parents believe that bunnies make great pets for young children, this is not generally the case. Rabbits’ needs are extremely complex, and you must consider everything from its living environment to its diet, and from cage companions to proper protection before even adopting one. Moreover, once you have a care plan in place, you must be vigilant with that plan and continue to provide adequate care for the remainder of your pet’s life.


The Five Basics of Rabbit Care

According to the Animal Welfare Act, individuals who adopt any pet—including a bunny—are required to provide for the animal’s basic needs. This includes doing the following five things:


  1. Providing a suitable place to live.
  2. Providing the animal with a healthy and consistent diet.
  3. Ensuring that your rabbit behaves normally.
  4. Providing appropriate company for the animal, including knowing which and which not cage companions to introduce your bunny to.
  5. Providing adequate protection from pain, suffering, injury and disease.


Establishing an Appropriate Environment

playing with bunFirst and foremost, it is important to note that your pet needs a home, not just a hutch or a cage. Animals are living, breathing creatures just like humans and, as such, deserve the same level of respect and care as humans. This includes providing them with an environment in which they can move freely. Rabbits like to hop, run, dig and stand up straight. Providing them with an environment in which they can do all of those things will ensure that your rabbit is not only happy, but that he is healthy and fit as well.


Additionally, you want to make sure that your pet has a separate and established toilet area. No animal likes to defecate where they live, so be kind to your bunny and provide an area separate from where they eat, sleep and play to do their business.


Some additional considerations to make when creating a suitable environment for your pet include:


  • Provide plenty of toys. Rabbits like to stay active, so preoccupy them with new and interchanging toys.
  • Provide hiding places. Bunnies tend to scare easily, and if they spot a dog, cat, fox or other potential predator, they may become stressed if they cannot find a place to hide.
  • Provide a SAFE environment. Rabbits are inquisitive animals, so if there are any hazards in their space, remove them to prevent injury.
  • Provide both a safe, indoor living space for your pet to relax, and attach it to an escape-proof outdoor area for them to run, jump and play in.
  • Provide a space that is well ventilated, and that is protected from the elements.
  • Provide enough bedding for your pet bunny to comfortably burrow into. Rabbits like to feel warm and snug, and skimping on proper bedding could mean that they won’t rest easy at night.


Maintaining a Proper Diet

Rabbits are grazers and as such, require plenty of plants and grass in their diets. Actually, without grass and hay, a rabbit could suffer from significant health issues. For one, rabbits who do not have enough grass, hay and other leafy green plants in their diet suffer from dental health issues, as those types of plants keep rabbits’ teeth at an appropriate length. For two, a rabbit’s pellets are an essential part of their diet. Bunnies produce two kinds of pellets: hard, dry pellets and softer moist pellets, which they eat directly from their bottom for nutrients. Without an adequate supply of leafy greens, they produce less nutritious pellets, and therefore, miss out on an essential part of their diet.


How much to feed your rabbit all depends on their age, breed, activity level and size. If your pet eats too much, they will suffer from obesity, which could lead to other health complications, including diabetes, heart disease and an early death. If they eat too little, they may suffer from malnutrition, which poses its own set of serious health risks.


Encouraging Proper Behavior

Rabbits are naturally social animals, which means that they require a good deal of social interaction. The best thing for your pet would be to have a second or multiple rabbits around, but if that is just not feasible for you, you must provide them with entertainment. Gently pet your bunny multiple times throughout the day, and train them to do tricks. Provide positive reinforcement when they learn to do something new.


If you notice that your pet shows signs of fear or stress (such as excessive chewing, skittishness or fear) talk to an animal expert about what you can do to bolster your rabbit’s confidence and happiness. It may be changing something small, like providing more room to play, or it may be something significant such as getting a companion rabbit for your pet. As a pet owner, it is your job to ensure his continued health and happiness, so it’s important that you consider all the possibilities of what you might have to do prior to adopting a pet.


Give Your Pet Company

care for bunnies as petsAgain, bunnies are social creatures, so if you are going to adopt one, you should really adopt two. A second rabbit, along with your own petting and training efforts, should ensure that your pets remain happy and healthy for the duration of their lives. Most experts recommend getting one neutered male and one neutered female; if you adopt rabbits that are not neutered, or if you do not neuter them yourself, you may find yourself saddled with a bunny farm (literally).


When introducing two new rabbits to each other, do so gradually and under supervision. It is best to introduce bunnies in a neutral space (as in, not in either rabbit’s home environment). Always consult with your vet first to ensure that neither rabbit is carrying a contagious disease or illness.


Protect Your Pet

Finally, it is up to you to provide protection for your pet and ensure their ongoing good health and welfare. Rabbits are capable of pain and suffering just like any other animal, but they are not too good at showing it. It is up to you to learn the difference between how your pet normally acts and how they act when under duress. This will ensure that they do not suffer for long if something should happen to them. Many rabbits are susceptible to dental disease and inherited disorders, so it is important that you take your new pet to the vet right after adoption so that you know what, if anything, to look out for. Some other health tips to consider include:


  • Ensure that your pet is up-to-date on his vaccinations;
  • Take measures to ensure that your bunny does not become stressed, as stress leads to illness;
  • Check your pet for signs of injury, illness or change in behavior every day;
  • Check teeth and nails once a week;
  • Check the fur around your bun’s ears and tail twice a day;
  • Only use medication specifically prescribed for your rabbit by your vet; and
  • Groom your bunny regularly.


Finally, if you think that your pet has been poisoned by herbicide or some other chemical, never “wait and see.” Take them to your vet right away for confirmation and swift treatment.


If you are thinking about adopting a pet bunny, bookmark this plan and share it on social media so that you can find it more easily when it’s finally time to take home your new pet. For ongoing tips for caring for your bunny at every stage of his life, subscribe to our email newsletter; include your rabbit’s age and details regarding its breed for reminders about when it’s time to visit the United Veterinary Center.

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