So, your canine friend doesn’t have the energy he used to, and lately his belly has been rounding out. Maybe the vet mentions that he needs to lose some weight, or maybe you notice your dog is having joint pain and other complications due to weight gain. It can be easy to let your dog’s weight gain go unnoticed, but it’s necessary to do something about it. An overweight dog is at a higher risk for issues like diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, and cancerous tumors. Even five pounds can increase a dog’s risk significantly. If you’re having trouble, here’s how to get your best friend back to their slim, healthy selves.
1. Get your pup moving!
It’s a well-known fact that most Americans are sedentary, but how is that affecting our dogs? The average canine requires about 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day. Especially energetic dog breeds, like Weimaraners, Jack Russell Terriers, Huskies and Poodles need more exercise and a more vigorous activity level. Find an activity to do with your dog every day- anything from a brisk walk, a game of fetch, a swim, or a round of agility training. Your dog will be grateful to spend the time with you, and they’ll be happier and healthier for it.
2. Avoid carb-laden, grain-filled diet foods.
If you start your dog on a diet food, make sure its primary ingredient is a high-quality protein. Many diet foods are full of empty carbs that make your dog feel full at first, but leave them hungry an hour or so later. Avoid labels that list corn as the first ingredient. In addition to high protein, a good food for dieting should contain below-average fat and not exceed 400 calories per cup of dry or canned dog food. See your vet before beginning a strictly regimented diet, and they can recommend a food for your dog.
3. Measure dog food carefully, and set specific feeding times.
Many dog owners are prone to letting dogs “graze” throughout the day, with food available 24/7. A better approach is to let your dog eat 2-4 times a day, with the bowl taken up quickly after the dog is done. This teaches your dog that food is only available at certain times, and for a limited period. Additionally, follow the feeding instructions on the bag and use a measuring cup to ensure you are feeding only the recommended amount. It’s easy to overestimate amounts without a measuring tool, so use one every time- a full bowl of food is probably too much. If your dog is overweight and you’ve already been feeding within the food recommendations, try cutting food by 20%.
4. Watch those treats!
It’s easy to fall into a habit of “guilt-treating,” or frequently rewarding your pet simply because you don’t spend enough time with them. Make sure treats are given only as a reward for tricks and good manners. Additionally, try to feed treats that are low fat and low sugar. Some pets respond well to a treat of carrots, green-beans, or sweet potatoes, a healthy alternative to store-bought treats. You can also divide treats into smaller pieces to avoid high calorie counts. Try to treat your dog no more than three or four times a day.
5. Look for underlying causes.
If you have increased your dog’s exercise, restricted their food to healthy amounts, and avoided high-calorie treats, you should see improvement. If your dog’s weight issues persist, it’s probably time to visit the vet and make sure your dog has no medical problems. Problems like hypothyroidism can cause weight gain in your pet, and need to be treated by a vet. Always watch for other signs of a health issue, like loose or wormy stool, dry, itchy skin, and hair loss.
Remember- the best way to love your pet is to give them the happiest, healthiest life you can. Overfeeding your pet may feel like a reward, but it’s ultimately doing them more harm than good. If you’re looking for a way to keep your dog fit and happy all day long, check out Pawderosa’s dog daycare- we offer a myriad of activities to keep your dog moving and playing.
Book your dog’s stay today.