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Beagle mix needs to lose weight

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Dear Dr. John,

Our Beagle mix is seven years old and weighs 45 pounds. Every member of the family has always loved feeding her to say nothing about how much she begs for food. As you might expect, all of us give in most of the time. So, what do we need to worry about? She is a happy dog who is otherwise in good health, and she has been this way for several years. Our vet has suggested diets, but we never seem to stick to our guns. There has been mention of prescription diets before. Do they work? — Thanks. T.S.

Dear T.S.,

The Beagle is one of those breeds that is more prone to being overweight. According to the AKC and other breed registration organizations, Beagles typically should weigh between 15 and 30 pounds, depending on size. Since your dog is a mixed breed and I do not know what else she is mixed with, it is hard to ascertain how overweight she might really be, yet I suspect she does need to be on a diet. Most dog owners do not even realize that their dogs are indeed overweight, so you have taken the first step in recognizing the reality of her weight.

Overweight dogs are prone to all sorts of maladies including arthritis, propensity for torn ligaments, heart disease, various endocrinopathies like diabetes and Cushing’s Disease, and a shorter life. Despite her good health up until now, there is a risk as she gets older and continues to be overweight. Veterinarians use a scale called Body Conditioning Score (BCS) of 1-9 that gives one a sense of where their dog is weight-wise. You can find this online or ask your veterinarian .

The truth is that you and your family need to exhibit some discipline and not give in to your dog begging and need to make your dog go for more and longer walks. As for prescription diets, they do work so let your veterinarian suggest which they deem appropriate. The weight loss should be gradual to not trigger issues. The best holiday gift you can give your dog is the start to a healthy weight loss diet that will keep her healthier for years to come!

Dr. John de Jong owns and operates the Boston Mobile Veterinary Clinic.He can be reached at 781-899-9994.

 

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