Like humans, Overweight dogs are more susceptible to many diseases such as diabetes, respiratory disease, arthritis, liver disease, heart disease, cancerous tumors, and behavioral problems than those within the healthy weight range. This is why it is important to know how to help your dog lose some weight.
Our pets are indeed our pride and joy, and we love them like one of the family, so it is vital that we keep them fit and healthy to give them a longer, happier life.
Different Ways to Help Your Dog Lose Some Weight
Dog obesity sometimes is not always obvious, especially if you’re always around your pet. The sad reality, however is 56% of dogs in the US are actually overweight. This is a clear indicator that fitness training is an important element for any dog’s lifestyle. So what next if your dog has on a few more extra pounds?
Keep Track of Daily Calorie Limits
Watching what goes into your dog’s food bowl is one way to start and perhaps the most important. A lot of pet food available in supermarkets are highly processed and pack a ton of calories. You may not know it, but these fats and sugars end up stored rather than broken down in the body. Over time they pile up those extra kilos. A calorie count is recommended. And not just going by the guidelines recommended on the food packaging as they are merely generic.
Different dogs require different caloric intake. This is attributed to factors such as size, breed, age, even activity level. So take away the guessing by visiting your pet to learn just how much is needed by your dog. Use this then as a baseline for servings and strictly adhere to the quantity guidelines. Be sure to keep it gradual but consistent. A huge calorie drop all at once may do more harm than good.
Make Exercise a Fun Venture
If you’re not already walking your dog, you ought to start. Walking is a basic requirement for keeping your dog healthy. Not only is it fun, but it also increases the bond with your fur companion. While walks are integral, independently, they may not be enough to shed off stubborn weight. Some more vigorous routines may help with this. Introduce some game time where you can play fetch or more energetic activities.
According to most experts, 20 min durations twice a day is a good target. But depending on your dog’s activity level, some may require much longer engagements. Be sure to consult with your primary vet before mapping out an exercise regimen. And just like feeding, start with subtle exercises as you build your way to intense regimens. To keep your pet in high spirits, have some rewards for positive reinforcement. The more your dog associates exercising with being a fun sport, the better for everyone.
Food Quality Plays an Important Role
Quality and quantity go hand in hand. You may be feeding your dog the right proportions, but without quality consideration, it is pointless. Healthier, whole foods are the best option to go by as they contain naturally balanced protein, carbohydrate, and vitamin amounts. Moreover, they are free of toxic substances that otherwise degrade nutritional value.
You may not completely do away with stored foods, but fruits, vegetables, and fiber-rich snacks are great alternatives. Make homemade treats now and then as well; you’ll be surprised just how many healthier options are available in your kitchen. Plus, your dog will love them!
Animal experts also suggest subdividing feeding times. Lower quantities at regular intervals boost the metabolism rate as opposed to lump-sum amounts all at once. And as we all know, getting that metabolism up is key to dropping weight. The good thing is your dog will feel fuller throughout the day.
Keep Count of the Treats As Well
Any dog owner knows just how much a delight treats are to pets. And while we love to show affection to our furry friends with tasty snacks, the downside is how much carbs we unknowingly feed them. Sugar is a common ingredient, and the proportions therein exceed what dogs naturally require.
That said, the best option would be to regulate how much and how many times we give treats. This applies irrespective of how active your dog may be. A wholesome weight loss plan must factor all elements big and small to realize measurable results. So having a proactive dog doesn’t necessarily give an excuse for a treat splurge.
If you can, bring in all-natural treats. Apples, strawberries, and carrots are great ideas that simultaneously boost the immune system. If your dog seems unhappy with the change, gradually introduce organic snacks into meal plans in small measurements.
Consider Supplements to Boost Weight Loss
When keeping to an exercise regimen, your dog is typically moving more and eating less. This deficiency could spark a whole list of unforeseen problems, including hunger spikes. And as you can imagine, a hungry dog may not be as cooperative. Supplements provide a safe way to shed kilos by suppressing hunger while at the same time providing those crucial nutrients needed.
They contain natural substances that actually help in the weight loss process. Conversely, essential minerals and vitamins are made available to offset any shortage thereof. Apart from that, supplements are a great option for boosting dog immunity against potential diseases. Consult with your vet which supplement(s) is best for your dog based on the diet plan and current weight loss strategy.
Review Your Dog’s Diet and Know How Much Do You Feed Your Dog
The most common reason your dog is overweight is down to its diet. It is important that you know what your dog should weigh and give it the appropriate amount of food each day, as detailed by your vet or by the food manufacturer.
Consider feeding your dog a reduced fat dog food to help speed weight loss or provide them with a smaller amount of their usual cuisine than normal. Perhaps keep a record of what you are feeding your pet each day. You might be surprised how many treats and scraps of food your dog is getting!
Another way to help your dog diet is to divide the food up into equal portions and feed it to them at intervals throughout the day, rather than in two big meals. This may help reduce begging and satisfy a greedy dog.
When your dog is out and about, ensure that they do not eat stuff from the ground and ask other dog walkers not to give them any treats. If you feed the birds or squirrels in your garden, watch that your pooch isn’t stealing the bread and nuts from the bird table!
Likewise, if you have other pets, such as a cat, make sure your dog doesn’t have access to their food. A fantastic way to prevent your dog from eating other pets’ food is to buy a feeding dish with a door that opens and closes by way of a sensor that picks up a signal from the pet’s microchip and only opens for them when they stand under the censor.
Never starve your pet when you are trying to get them to lose weight quickly. Pets need the right balance of minerals and vitamins. If you reduce your pet’s food intake by more than 15%, this will later on lead your pet to an improperly balanced diet. By doing so, you can put your pet at risk of becoming ill, and this is why it is important to have a vet review your pet’s diet.
Walkies! Increase Exercise in a Safely Matter
To fight the flab, your dog must exercise every day. If your dog is very obese and struggling to walk, you will need to ease them into an activity regime. Take your dog for gentle walks or make their activity fun and have some playtime with them in the house or the garden. Do some research on your specific dog’s breed and find out how much exercise they should be getting each day and see if there is a particular form of activity suited to your dog or one that they might find more enjoyable than others.
Some veterinary practices or doggy daycare centers have swimming pools for dogs to exercise in. Swimming is excellent for obese dogs because it reduces stress on the joints, which is especially important in dogs with arthritis.
Another way to get your dog to exercise more is to make them work for their food. Move the food balls upstairs so that they have to climb up to get to it. Use a puzzler feeding bowl or treat ball that makes the dog eat slower so that they feel fuller for longer. Putting some healthy food in a treat ball will expend some of their energy as they will have to work to get their reward.
Try not to overexercise your pooch when the outside temperature is very high. Your pet may be at risk of heatstroke because of this. Also, try not to exercise your dog during the midday sun.
Plan a Vet Visit to Rule Out Any Medical Conditions
If you know that you are feeding your dog the correct amount of food each day, keeping treats to a minimum, and giving your dog plenty of exercises, but they are still significantly overweight, you should visit your vet as there may be a medical condition causing the weight gain.
You should never put your pet on a diet without the assistance of your veterinary that specializes in nutrition.
An unknown medical condition could be causing your pet’s excess weight. Other medical conditions like hypothyroidism or Cushing’s Disease can cause dogs to become overweight and should be treated ASAP to stop them from worsening or developing complications. Signs that your dog may have these conditions include a change in the appearance of its coat, excessive thirst, and lethargy.
Signs Your Dog Is Overweight
Approximately 35% of pet dogs are overweight, and many owners don’t even realize it until they take their pet to the vet for a check up. If you are not sure whether your pet is overweight, you can check out various websites that will show you how to check.
The first step to analyze when determining the condition of your dog’s body is to run the flat of your palm along both sides of their ribcage. If the dog’s ribs are very visibly obvious and sticking out, they are underweight, but if their ribs are not easily palpated or seen easily and they have an obvious covering layer of fat, they need to lose some weight.
Fat deposits will also be present over the lumbar area and base of the tail. Obese dogs will have no obvious waist when viewed from above and won’t have an abdominal tuck – instead, their belly will hang in obvious abdominal distension. Fat may also accumulate around the dog’s neck and on their limbs.
Overweight dogs may struggle to move around freely, be lethargic, show signs of lameness, and have an intolerance to exercise. Being overweight can cause the anal glands in dogs to become infected because the animal may lack the muscle tonality that helps to forcefully contract the muscles around the anal glands to empty them. Excessive panting is another sign that your dog is overweight.
Why should my dog lose weight?
Extra weight is a sure ticket to a whole array of illnesses, the most popular being liver, pancreatic, endocrine, and circulatory disorders. If the pounds keep piling, you may suscept your dog too early arthritis due to too much pressure on the joints.
That said, a regular checkup with the vet should alarm you in case you’re rearing an overweight pooch. And if you need some more convincing, look at your dog’s silhouette. Can you see a defined waistline that tapers towards the rear? Can you feel its ribs upon contact? If not, then very likely your dog needs some toning.
How often should I have my pet’s progress checked?
This will largely depend on the general health of your dog. If your dog’s weight tips over the average range by a milestone, then you may need to make more frequent visits. But if you’re just precautious, you don’t need to. Experts suggest at the very least an annual checkup just to have your dog tested and rule out medical conditions.
When at home, you could also use domestic scales to assess just how well the weight loss plan is working. About a 5% loss in total body weight is expected per month. If this is not the case, do not hesitate to seek medical attention.
Last Updated on 18/01/2021 by Karen Snow
Hi! I’m Karen and a certified dog lover. As a freelance writer and blogger, I do my best to squeeze in some time with my dogs, learning more about the way they act and how I can make sure that they continue to stay well-cared for by yours truly.
My dogs have helped me through a lot, and this is my way of giving back to them! Besides animals, I also love to travel and cook, having explored my country’s restaurants and unique places. Follow me as I show you all the amazing tips and bits of information I learn along the way about our furry friends!