Chubby service dog laying on a pillow

Pet Obesity: Tips on How to Avoid Killing Your Dog

Obesity in pets is on the rise and can have serious health ramifications for your dog. Obesity in emotional support dogs and service dogs is a huge issue since they are supposed to be helping their owners with tasks or providing comfort.

It can be hard to do that when the emotional support dog is overweight and out of shape.

Emotional support dogs are the lesser-known version of a service dog. Often people mix the two terms and believe that they are the same thing. This is far from the truth.

Service dogs are specially selected and trained for their occupation. They are specifically taught how to assist humans who suffer from seizures, narcoleptic episodes, and a plethora of other disabilities. Service dogs can get help from people in a public setting and can fetch medication for the owner if necessary.

It is important to understand that if you see a service dog or emotional support dog in public it is that you leave the dog alone or ask the owner if it okay for you to interact with the dog. It is working and should not be distracted from the job at hand.

If a service dog or emotional support dog should approach you without the owner, you should let the dog lead you back to their owner, as something has probably gone wrong, and the owner needs help.

While obesity in any animal is never good, it is an especially bad sign in an emotional support dog. An emotional support dog has a job to perform which is to ensure the mental stability of their owner, and obesity can get in the way of doing its job.

In addition to obesity, the emotional support dog may also start to develop other problems that can arise because of its weight. If the dog is struggling with obesity issues it is important to take the emotional support dog to the vet to work out what steps you should take to help your dog start to lose weight.

It is crucial to figure out what methods of weight loss will work best for your emotional support dog and if there are any other problems that the vet can identify.

Just like humans, there are certain breeds of dogs that are more prone to obesity than other dogs. Some of the most popular breeds that are obesity-prone are golden retrievers, pugs, and labradors.

Tips on How to Help Your Dog Avoid Obesity or Lose Weight

Prevent obseity by exercising your service dog

Often this obesity stems from a lack of education in canine health on the part of the owner. Due to our dog's adorable and cute faces, we often fall prey to giving them whatever they desire. This is, of course, includes food scraps from every meal held at the kitchen table. Their dopey eyes, soft whimpers, and pawing often pierce the heart of their owners and we tend to cave in rather quickly to their wants.

These actions should be abstained from at all times to help avoid obesity in your dog.

Like the dog's owner, they need consistent meals during certain times of the day for regularity. Snacking is a privilege that we as humans often abuse and ignore, but it should never be ignored when it comes to your emotional support animal as the repercussions can be weighty.

Allowing your emotional support dog to eat food scraps from the table or giving them bites of your dinner may not seem like it matters when it comes to their health, but these foods that they get from the table are not foods that the dog's body is used to digesting.

This can cause issues in the digestive system, causing your emotional support dog to gain weight. To help your dog lose weight, please refrain from feeding them at the table.

If you are a softie, and cannot say no to your dog, learn to say no. Try to avoid looking at your dog in the eyes while eating at the table, or keep your dog in a different room while you eat if you know that you will break down and give them food.

Another cause of obesity in dogs is giving them treats far too often. This is seen a lot in emotional support dogs since the owners tend to try to bring joy or give a reward to their dog in the form of a treat every time their emotional support dog helps them.

This habit should be stopped to help your dog maintain a healthy weight or to help your dog lose extra weight. Essentially, put your dog on a diet. Cut out the snacky treats and scraps so that their meals are balanced.

Feeding your ESA dog treats

That is not to say that you can't give your dog a treat occasionally, but try to cut back if you are constantly giving treats.

One of the more obvious factors in obesity in dogs is not getting enough exercise. This affects many dogs around the world, especially in dogs in homes with busy or neglectful owners.

If your emotional support dog is starting to look a bit chunkier, consider taking it out for more walks. Try to lengthen the walks you take your dog on and make them a little bit more challenging. Think uphill or on a mountain trail hike.

You can involve other forms of exercise other then walks into your dog's lifestyle, too. Try to find a dog park nearby where there are obstacles, sticks, balls, other dogs, and toys for the dogs to play with.

Getting your dog involved in a dog park can open social doors for both you and your emotional support dog. Dogs are social creatures and when they are happy, their bodies perform better. Hence, a happy dog could lead to weight loss.

Taking your dog with you on your run, bike ride, or a trip to the beach is also a great way for your dog to get a little more time exercising. Keeping the exercise new and interesting will make it fun for you and your dog!

If you know of a big, open field nearby or in a park, bring a tennis ball and your dog! Letting them have more freedom to run and play is important.

If you cannot fit more exercise trips or walks into your life, try to incorporate more playtime in with your dog, especially if your dog is an emotional support dog. Emotional support dogs need to feel the love that they give to come back to them in the form of play and affection.

Try to involve physical games into playtime like tug of war, wrestling, play fighting, or catch so that your dog is getting active at home.

If you own a house with a large yard or have a fenced-in property, then consider letting your emotional support dog run around outside for a couple of hours a day, weather permitting of course.

An emotional support dog will need some time to itself to release its stress and get active, so letting your emotional support dog time to run in circles on the lawn is a great way to incorporate these things into the life of your dog!

Sometimes, the lifestyle of your emotional support dog is perfectly healthy. They eat normal-sized meals, get plenty of exercise and sleep, they do not overeat food scraps from the table, or have treats often, but they are still somehow obese.

This may not have anything to do with how you take care of your emotional support dog and everything to do with their genetic make-up and DNA coding.

If you think that the lifestyle and habits of your emotional support dog are healthy and proper but they still are obese, take your dog to the vet.

Your vet might be able to point out issues in the lifestyle of your emotional support dog that is contributing to its weight gain or problems losing the weight.

Sometimes, the dog will not lose weight because there is an underlying condition that is unknown to the owner (or even the vet,) that will come to light since weight gain is a symptom.

Your dog's vet will be able to help you understand what can be done to help your emotional support dog get healthier again and support you in the way you need it. Do not be afraid to ask your dog's vet for help to figure out a plan for your dog's weight loss journey.

Sometimes all your best efforts do not work and you need to reach out for professional and medical help. That is okay! No one is perfect, and chances are that you are not an expert in animal obesity cures.

If you do go to your emotional support dog's vet for assistance and help, make sure that you are completely honest with them about everything.

If the vet asks if you feed your emotional support dog a particular food, be honest. Especially when it comes to what types of table scraps you feed your dog (or that your dog steals,) because certain foods can harm particular breeds of dogs causing weight gain.

Whatever the situation with the weight of your emotional support dog, make sure that you help correct the situation quickly and with proper knowledge. Do your research on the breed that your emotional support dog is to ensure that you are helping them and not accidentally harming them.

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