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Published: May 30, 2012

In our previous article, we touched on diagnosing obesity in dogs and how it can lead to painful arthritis in dogs. Yet these are not the only issues facing pet owners with overweight canines. Obesity can also contribute to diabetes in dogs and pet owners should also know what they can do to help their dogs lose some weight.

While an obese dog will not automatically develop diabetes, weight problems contribute significantly to the dog's risk factor. Dogs that are significantly obese should be taken to a veterinarian, who can check for diabetes.  A urinalysis and complete blood work can also reveal the presence of diabetes or other problems your obese dog may be having. If diabetes is diagnosed, your vet will prescribe appropriate treatments including insulin injections.  The disease will require careful monitoring on the part of the pet owner and weight loss will help your dog feel better and make their diabetes easier to regulate.

A pet owner who has an obese dog diagnosed with diabetes, arthritis or a similar condition will likely be told by the veterinarian that the animal needs to lose some weight. Treatment of dog obesity is something that all pet owners should take seriously, as it can significantly improve the animal's health and lengthen its lifespan. Losing weight will reduce the pain felt from arthritis, may prevent complications from diabetes and lower the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. Getting a dog in shape can be tough, but when it comes to pet health it's one of the best things an owner can do.

The first aspect you should address is the dog's diet. Many veterinarians will prescribe specific foods fed at specific amounts that the dog can eat in order to lose some weight. While a change in diet can be helpful in losing weight, it is up to the owner to manage the dog's portions in order to be successful with weight loss. Set specific meal times and stick to them rather than allowing your dog to eat all day long. Cut back on dog treats, and consider investing in an interactive feeder toy that makes the dog "work" for its food.

This bridges into the other aspect of losing weight - exercise. Most dogs naturally want to play, so the issue mainly comes down to the owner making time for the animal. Playing fetch or taking the dog for a walk are good examples of light exercise, and incorporating these into a daily routine will help the animal shed some pounds. If the dog is lethargic or appears to be in pain while exercising, it may be due to arthritis or another condition.  Talk with your veterinarian about exercises you can do that won't cause the dog pain but will help it get healthier. As dog’s lose weight, pain from arthritis tends to become less severe and they will often become more active.