Our dogs are too fat to be healthy

To the Editor:

Just as for humans, obesity is a growing and costly problem for the 77 million-plus pet dogs in America.

A study in 2010 by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention found that over 50 percent of dogs are overweight or obese. As we come out of winter hibernation with our pets, spring is a perfect time to reevaluate our dogs' health and make a change together.

Perception is part of the problem; a dog that looks healthy to us, or even 'cute' with rolls of fat, is often suffering from excess weight. To the average human, five extra pounds may not seem like a big deal, but for a medium-size dog whose ideal weight is 30 pounds, for example, this extra weight can be life threatening.

Obesity in dogs can result in arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease and other conditions that are not only painful, but also require expensive medical attention.

The best thing dog owners can do is to consult their veterinarian on what a healthy weight is for their dog and then put a plan of action into place.

Switch your dog to a well-balanced, appropriately portioned canine diet. Look for foods containing only high-quality ingredients, with no extras like protein fillers, unspecified animal by-products or chemical preservatives. Get some exercise. Walk your dog, take him to the dog park, or just toss a ball for him to fetch around the yard. And make time to train your dog regularly using a method that doesn't rely on sugar- and fat-loaded treats.

Excess weight in pets can decrease their life expectancy by up to 2.5 years; you can increase both your dog's quality and quantity of life by keeping him at a healthy weight.

Al Holzer

Bark Busters Home Dog Training

West Linn