Like people, when dogs get older, weight can all too easily be gained or lost. Changing weight dynamics in older dogs is common, it’s expected and in most cases it’s nothing to get too alarmed about.
But there are tips and techniques that can help dog owners understand the various approaches we can take to ensure our older dog’s weight management is properly monitored and managed.
Older dog weight gain
Sometimes the reason older dogs gain weight is quite simple and can be easily remedied, at other times we might need some veterinary advice to make sure there is no underlying problem.
How to evaluate your older dog’s weight and condition
Watch the video below. It teaches you how to establish if your older dog is too fat, too thin or ideal weight. You don’t need scales or any special equipment, you can perform this weight test in your own home.
3 Simple ways to manage weight gain in older dogs
Here are 3 of the most common reasons older dogs can gain weight and how you can help your dog stay healthy.
Exercise: Shake up your dog’s regime
Just because our older dogs can’t do the miles they once did and we’re conscious of how exercise will impact on their joints, doesn’t mean they have to miss out altogether.
Use it as a good excuse to find a new walking route, somewhere full of new smells and sights where you can do short bursts rather than long stretches.
You can also consider introducing new fun games to play at home which are good for mental stimulation and provide outlets for short bursts of activity. For example, does your dog have a favourite toy?
If so, why not have a game of hide and seek?
K9 Magazine says,
Canine hide and seek might sound like a bit of a laugh, but it stimulates an integral area of many dogs’ natural instincts such as scent tracking. People lost in avalanches are only too glad that the St Bernard that finds them likes a good game of hide and seek, and now you can bond with your dog indoors or out come rain or shine, in this fun, obedience orientated and stimulating activity.
Nutrition: Change your older dog’s diet
As your dog gets older, their body evolves too, and this changes the way and speed at which they digest and absorb food. This is why you’ll often see senior dog foods with different ingredients highlighted on the label.
Look into different dog foods and learn what might best suit your dog, for example, would a diet dog food work for them at their stage of life, or would they prefer an alternative diet which is more suited to their age with adjustments made elsewhere (such as swapping their normal treats to a healthier, less calorie heavy alternative) to keep their weight in check?
Health: manage and monitor your older dog’s health
You know your dog better than anyone else so it goes without saying you can pick up on the subtlest of changes to their behaviour or health easier than anyone else.
It’s important that as your dog gets older, you keep an eye on their health and wellbeing.
If they gain weight, ask yourself if there’s an underlying issue to be treated?
- Is their weight gain sudden / dramatic?
- Is your older dog eating normally but gaining weight at a rapid rate?
- Has the weight gain come about because your older dog is exercising less and, if so, is there an underlying mobility problem that needs to be investigated?
Two common medical reasons for sudden weight gain in older dogs
Factfile: Cushing’s Disease in dogs
Canine Cushing’s syndrome is a chronic illness that, if left untreated it can rapidly and severely affect your dog’s quality of life and can lead to a range of more severe health problems and in certain cases can cause fatal complications.
Understanding the causes and symptoms of Cushing’s Disease in dogs could save your pet’s life. Cushing’s syndrome is an incurable but entirely treatable condition that is caused by a malfunctioning pituitary gland. The pituitary gland governs growth and governs adrenaline production.
In some cases, parasites, can also lead to weight gain and some parasites, fleas, for example, can sometimes lead to others, such as tapeworm (also known as the cucumber tapeworm because of its appearance), so make sure you find a good dog flea treatment to treat your pet is regularly.
Changes to behaviour, lumps and bumps and weight loss should be monitored and checked out too.
Your dog’s weight can have an impact on their organs and joints, which is why it’s crucial you make sure your dog’s weight is kept in check so as little extra weight and strain is put on them as possible.
Older dogs weight and life expectancy
Dog owners shouldn’t need much motivation to ensure their dog is the healthiest weight for their age, breed and lifestyle but how about this – dogs who are kept at the optimum weight can and do live longer.
Here’s the science