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Slimming Down a Pudgy Puppy

Just like humans, too much food and too little physical activity has led to an increase in pudgy pups. And that increase means a lot of dogs are dealing with health problems related to the extra fat they carry, such as extra strain on the joints. Some breeds — Labradors and beagles are commonly mentioned — show a marked tendency to get chubby easily.

Is your dog fat? A normal-weight dog has ribs that don't show, but can be easily felt beneath a thin layer of protective fat. From the side and from above, you should be able to see a waistline — an area just behind the ribcage where your dog's body should tuck in.

If your dog's fat — or if you're not sure if he's fat — ask for your veterinarian's opinion on the subject. Your veterinarian can guide you in helping your pet to lose weight. In extreme cases, that might involve a total change of diet. In many dogs, though, the problem can be taken care of easily by deleting a few extra snacks — or substituting lighter treats, such as carrots or rice cakes — in combination with an increase in exercise.

Whatever you do, don't ignore obesity. Proper nutrition and fitness will help your pet to live a happier, healthier, and longer life.

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