A survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, more than 50% of the cat and dog population is overweight or obese. What is worse, is that these overweight pets are more prone to a variety of health issues, such as arthritis, diabetes, and heart diseases.
Because of this alarming threat posed by being overweight, many responsible dog owners are doing their best to take the necessary actions to help their dog lose weight. As you scroll down, you will be getting some steps, tips, and suggestions that could answer your question, “how to help your dog lose weight?”
First let’s start on – How can you tell that your dog is overweight?
- Consult a veterinarian. Your dog’s veterinarian is the best and most qualified to assess your dog’s body condition — if he or she is overweight or obese.
- Evaluate your dog’s body and posture. To have a holistic profile, check your dog’s body from different angles. From a bird’s eye view and from a side view, a healthy-weighing dog should have an easily identifiable definite waist. If the dog’s waist cannot be identified, or worse, if it is wider than the ribs and the hips, there is a high probability that your dog is overweight.
- Weigh your dog. There are many reliable charts available online that will give you an ideal weight based on your dog’s gender and breed. These charts are based on average weight ranges that are typical for certain types of breed, and depending on their gender. If you want to check your dog’s accurate weight at home, weigh yourself first and then if you can, carry your dog. By subtracting your weight from your and your dog’s combined weight, you will get an accurate weight of your dog.
- Do the “rib test.” This is process involves feeling your dog’s ribs. A healthy-weighing dog has ribs that are not very visible, but can be easily felt and can be counted (individual rib). If you cannot easily do this, your dog may be likely overweight.
What are some dieting tips to help your dog lose weight?
Many dog owners may not be fully aware that they are already spoiling with food and overfeeding their dogs. Some may even offer their dog an “all day buffet” of dog food available in their homes. To prevent and solve overweight problems, here are some dieting and feeding tips:
1) Know how many calories your dog needs.
Many, if not all, dog foods have suggested serving sizes. You can also use this formula:
Divide your dog’s weight (in pounds) by 2.2, multiply by 30, and then add 70 to this figure. (i.e, a dog weighing 10 lbs should have an ideal calorie intake of 206.36 calories)
However, a dog’s metabolism differs from one another. Thus, it is still best to consult your dog’s veterinarian to know how many calories is best suited for your dog’s breed, size, age, and level of activity. From this, you will know how many calories you should only <>give your dog each day.
2) Give healthy treats.
Treats are important to dogs, especially for training. We do not recommend totally removing treats, but we do highly suggest giving nutritionally-balanced treats. Choose treats that are low in calories and in sugar. A great choice is one-ingredient treats that keep your dog at a healthy weight, but also keep their teeth clean. Whatever treat you give to your dog, make sure to include those additional calories in their daily calorie count. As a general rule, treats should only comprise 10% of a dog’s daily calorie count.
3) Cut down some carbs.
Many dog owners feed their pets with food that have high carbohydrate content. A diet with high protein content and low carbohydrate content are most preferred for dogs.
4) Supplements may be beneficial.
Omega-3 fatty acid, or fish oil, and L-carnitine are known to be helpful in maintaining health of dogs. They are packed with anti-oxidant that are proven to help prevent and remedy several diseases, ease aching joints, promote lean muscles, and aid weight loss.
Do not always give in when your dog begs.
We know that this may be very difficult to do, especially when your dog gives you that adorable “puppy dog eyes.” But, if your overweight dog cries and whines for more treats or food, try your best to resist and be firm. Do not spoil your dog with too much food. If your dog knows that he or she will get what he or she wants by whining, he or she will always do it to have things her way. Just be very sure that you have given your dog the right amount of calories each day, and your dog is not really hungry.
What are some exercises that are great for overweight dogs?
Daily exercise is important to keep your dog healthy, fit, and at the right weight. There are many fun active activities that you can try with your dog. The important thing to remember is that nothing should be an excuse to skip exercise. Whether it is too hot, too cold, or raining outside, you should still be able to keep your dog active. Indoor exercises and physical activities can also be both enjoyable and beneficial!
- Let your dog lead the way. Give a little twist to your daily walks. Instead of you walking your dog, let your dog walk you. Wherever your dog goes, you follow. This is best done in a safe and familiar environment.
- Enroll in an agility class. If you have extra budget, you can let your dog join an agility class to help him burn pounds. Agility classes involve running and jumping, that is great both to keep dogs fit and to develop confidence.
- Good old game of fetch still works effectively. Dogs love playing fetch! A simple game of fetch is convenient to squeeze into any dog owner’s busy schedule. You can play this with your dog in your backyard, at the park, or even in the comforts of your home.
- Let your dog play and interact with other dogs. Like us humans, dogs also need to interact with other dogs. Dogs are creative and can make their own games to expend their energy, and also to help them lose some weight.
- Use the stairs; have your dog run up and down. This is perfect when you cannot go out of the house because of unfortunate extreme weather conditions. Running on an elevated platform will add challenge and will allow your dog to move more muscles. To keep this activity interesting, place a toy on top of the stairs, have your dog get this and bring it back down to you.
Helping your dog lose weight is the right balance of proper diet and regular exercise. The most important thing helping your dog lose weight, is to let him feel that the process of losing those extra pounds is not that burdensome, but actually interesting and fun.
Author: Anna Stewart, founder of Puphow.com