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March 2016

Trimming The Fat
by Kait Hanson

According to a study conducted by PetObesityPrevention.org, 52.7 percent of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese. The reality of this is that 43.8 million dogs suffer from this epidemic — something that can lead to health complications, damage to joints, and, ultimately, a decrease in quality of life.

Monitoring food intake, regular exercise, and smart snacking can lead to a longer, healthier life for your Lab. Most Lab owners like you will agree that their four-legged companions respond best to food, whether you’re teaching a new trick or trying to reinforce positive behavior. The healthy weight for a full-grown Labrador retriever is 60-80 pounds and by clearing up a few weight-related misnomers, your four-legged friend can maintain a comfortable weight for his or her individual frame.

My Lab is always hungry.

First things first—no, they are not. It is imperative to recognize that insatiable hunger is a common trait in Labradors — you are not alone! While this cannot typically be conquered, your Labrador will adjust to dietary changes and become accustomed to his or her new routine. Unfortunately, those begging eyes don’t ever stop…

I didn’t know my Lab was overweight. I thought there was just more to love!

You can quickly determine if your Labrador is overweight by simply looking at his or her waist. You should be able to see a defined waist, not a single barrel from snout to tail. Being aware of this early on makes it easier to maintain a healthy weight throughout your Lab’s life.

I don’t have time for long walks every day.

Exercise is extremely important for animals, but especially for naturally athletic breeds like Labradors. Setting aside 30 minutes of dedicated exercise time daily is crucial. If you notice that your exercise time is being reduced, the amount of food being consumed needs to be reduced as well.

I’m exercising with my Lab and feeding a healthy diet, but she/he’s still overweight.

Talk to your veterinarian. It’s possible your Lab may have an underlying health issue or omething else going on that’s preventing you dog's ability to maintain a healthy weight. Your vet is the best source for dietary questions and developing a course of action that works best for both you and your pet.

I walk my Lab daily, but I have seen no improvement.

Walking is a great low-impact exercise, but consider alternative methods, too. “Don’t forget mental exercise. Training games and problem solving toys are great additions to maintaining a healthy Lab. Labs who are engaged in training and learn to be well-mannered will enjoy a family that spends more time playing and exercising them because it’s fun for everyone,” says Michelle Mullins, CPDT-KA, KPA-CTP, Training and Behavior Education Manager, PetSafe® brand.

There are so many wonderful aspects to life with a Labrador — don’t cut that time short. A healthy Lab is a happy Lab!