Excess weight leads to many not-so-nice health problems in dogs, including exercise intolerance, high blood pressure, diabetes, liver disease, osteoarthritis, increased risk of cancer, and the list goes on. If your dog needs to loose some weight, here are some tips to get things back on track.
First, set your goals. Have your vet help you determine the right weight for your dog. Look at a visual chart that demonstrates how your dog should look for your particular breed. Most of these feature a view from the top and the side. A good general rule of thumb is that you should be able to feel, but not see, your dog’s ribs.
If you dog needs to lose some weight, help them do it slowly. A safe rate of loss is 1% of body weight per week, no more.
One strategy is to feed less of the food you are currently giving them. Look at the feeding recommendations for your food, and feed according to activity level, age and the weight you want your dog to be. You might find that your particular pet needs less food than is recommended to maintain a proper weight. If you feed twice a day, try making the second meal smaller. Add non-starchy veggies such as green beans to make up for the quantity.
Another strategy is to change what you feed to see if your dog does better on something else. You can try a weight management or senior formula with fewer calories and more fiber. But make sure it is a good brand without artificial ingredients, by-products, wheat, corn or soy.
You can also go for a brand with a different make-up of fat, protein and carbohydrates, as some dogs gain weight on higher-protein foods for example. Or, if you feed a food with grain, consider going grain-free. If you only feed dry kibble, consider canned, freeze-dried raw or frozen raw food. The added moisture and lower carbohydrate content can help take that excess weight off.
It may take some trial and error to figure out what works. Weigh your dog every few weeks to make sure you are on track, and keep it up after they reach the correct weight to make sure they are maintaining.
Now that meal time is under control, think about what else you dog is eating. Treats should not make up more than 10% of your dog’s diet. Single ingredient treats are best when you are trying to slim down your pet. Try dehydrated meat or jerky treats, frozen green beans, carrots or blueberries.
Oh, and make sure to get your little buddy out for some walks and play time every day. You can do this, we are here to help!