Obese & Fat German Shepherd

Like humans, dogs can become obese for several reasons, and the effect is just as severe in them. German Shepherds are prone to becoming obese, and in this article, you will find out the common reasons why your GSD is becoming overweight, warning signs to watch out for the tips to help it maintain a healthy weight. 

The Danger of Allowing Your GSD to Become Obese

Most dog owners ignore their dog’s weight. As your GSD’s caregiver, it is essential that you monitor your dog’s weight because obesity can usher in many health complications that we will talk about shortly. 

Below is a list of common health challenges that being overweight can cause your German Shepherd 

  • Arthritis: As German Shepherds age, they naturally become prone to hip dysplasia and arthritis; however, an excess amount of body fat will increase the chances of the dog having these ailments early. The excess weight from the extra fats overworks the bone and joints. 
  • Lung and Heart Problems: Obesity opens your canine to the risk of respiratory diseases, increased blood pressure, and cardiovascular diseases. These diseases can prove fatal if left unattended.
  • Anesthesia risks: When your German Shepherd is overweight, it overworks the lungs and heart. This makes them work irregularly and could lead to surgical complications when your dog gets anesthetized.
  • ACL injuries: The excess fat from obesity puts too much pressure on the ACL ligament and can result in ACL injuries, which can be very excruciating for your canine.
  • Body Stress: Just as it is with humans, the excess fat puts too much strain on your GSD body and makes it become weak quickly. This can also cause heart or respiratory issues. The joints and muscles can also suffer injuries as a result of this.
  • Overall Lifestyle: Obesity will affect the quality of life of your dog as it will expose it to diseases and injuries and shorten its life expectancy. 

How to Know If a German Shepherd is Overweight

It is difficult to notice when a remarkable change has happened in your dog, especially when you it every day. Below are a few things to look out for to determine if your dog is overweight. However, a vet alone can give a definitive diagnosis.

  • When you rub your hands over the dog’s chest, you should each of the ribs without them being covered by a layer of fat.
  • When looking over the dog’s back from a standing position, you must be able to notice its waist and the abdomen should be narrower than the chest area. 
  • When viewing the dog sideways, you must be able to notice the dip which demarcates between the abdominal area to the chest. This implies that the chest should hang lower than the belly.

Common causes of an Overweight GSD

Below are the common causes of overweight in German Shepherd dog species.

  • Overfeeding: The primary reason GSD becomes overweight is when they overeat. When an owner refuses to control the ration that the dog eats and when the feeding pattern is irregular, the dog will eat up eating more than the body can digest. The excess carbohydrates get converted to fat.
  • Low Quality of Food: Like humans, dogs need a balanced diet to lead a healthy life. People who eat junk foods end up becoming overweight, and in the same fashion, dogs who are fed with unhealthy meals become victims of excessive weight gains. Before you introduce a new food to your dog, make sure it supplies its daily nutritional requirements in the right proportions.
  • Human Food:  The nutritional requirements of a dog is different from that of a human being. It is normal to want to share your favorite food with your canine friend. However, there are several things you can eat. For example, sugar is an integral part of our meals but harmful to dogs. Your dog’s intestine is narrower than yours and can’t digest most of our food, especially those high in fat and lacking essential ingredients.
  • Inadequate Exercise:  Like humans, dogs need to engage in physical activities to aid the metabolism of food. A lack of exercise will result in the accumulation of excess fat on your dog’s body. We recommend a minimum of 20 minutes of exercise daily for your GSD. Neutering/Spaying are also a cause of overweight in dogs due to a lower rate of metabolism.

Apart from the above causes, some medical conditions are responsible for obesity in dogs. They include:

  • Hypothyroidism: This is a medical condition where the thyroid gland is less active than it should be. It ends up, resulting in a slower metabolism, excess weight gain, and loss of hair. If you are careful with the way your dog eats and exercises, but it still accumulates excess fat, then it could be a result of this condition. Visit your Vet to find out.
  • Cushing’s disease: This is a medical condition where the cortisol hormone is being produced excessively. Since the hormone is supposed to maintain the bodyweight of your dog, an increase in it’s secretion will result in more bodyweight.
  • Genetics: Genetics may play a role in making a dog overweight. Always find out the history of dog parents before purchasing.

How to Make Your German Shepherd Lose Weight?

In case you have carried out the recommended physical examination that gives you a cue into the condition of your dog’s weight, you can take your dog through a weight journey by following the tips provided below.

The first step to take in the weight journey is to determine the cause of obesity. If you are sure that it is not caused by an underlying health ailment, then you can start by:

  • Readjust your dog’s diet: Replace the food you give your dog with dog food that is prepared to aid weight loss. This process should be carried out in the space of approximately two weeks so that it doesn’t result in stomach discomfort in the dog. It is also good to discuss this with your Vet before introducing a new food.
  • Reduce the Daily ration: To cut in on the daily carbohydrates content, you can reduce the quantity of food which you give the dog typically. However, you can’t reduce the ration by a significant amount or starve a GSD; otherwise, it will result in other complications. Therefore, when reducing the amount of food, do it gradually.
  • Engage it in Physical Activities: After you have dealt with the excess food intake through dieting and reducing its ration, you can now proceed to engage the dog in exercises. Design a routine that keeps the dog burning those excess fat daily. You can take the dog for a walk daily for about 20 mins and get a toy that keeps it running around.
  • Track the Progress: This is another crucial aspect of your dog’s weight journey. You can achieve this by taking the dog’s body size and weight monthly. Your dog must be able to shed off between 3-6% of its body weight after one month of adjusting its diet and increasing the daily activities. If no noticeable progress is observed, then you should take it to a vet for professional advice.

When to Take Your GSD to See the Vet?

Sometimes the process of weight loss can be tedious when trying to carry it out on your pet. This is because any significant change in activities and diet may affect your dog’s health in a way you never anticipated. At such points, you need to return to the drawing board and pay the Vet a visit.

What Your Vet Can Do for You

A Vet is your best bet whenever you need to make any inquiry or carry out any action that has to do with the well-being of your dogs.

  • The Vet will help you identify the primary cause of obesity, especially if it is due to any of the medical conditions that we discussed earlier.
  • The Vet can help you with suggestions on the type of dog food you should prepare or purchase from the retail store. This is because every species of dog have different nutritional requirements. The Vet will recommend the right food for your GSD. 
  • The Vet can help you design a meal plan and schedule based on the condition of your dog. This is because a sudden change in lifestyle can affect your dog’s wellness. The Vet will even recommend the quantity of food your dog can have. Even if you have a meal plan, allow your Vet to go through it and make corrections where necessary.=
  • The Vet can help you properly track the progress of your German Shepherd dog. Although you can do it as we suggested initially, the Vet will give a more accurate result and recommendation. 

Wrap Up

Obesity is a condition that can reduce the life span of your German Shepherd by up to 3years. Therefore, it is imperative that you monitor your dog’s weight and take measures to correct any abnormal weight gain before it becomes a bigger problem.

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