You’ve discovered that your dog may be carrying a few extra pounds, and now the question becomes, what can you do to get your pooch back on a healthy track? Just like people who struggle with their weight, dogs can gain the most benefit from a nutritious and balanced diet and exercise program. It is crucial that you help slim down your dog for its good health.
There are few things that you’re likely doing that contributes to your dog’s weight. For the benefit of your pet, you need to stop individual things hindering your dog’s health.
Tips that Can Help to Slim Down Your Dog
Giving lots of treats – many pet owners give their animals too many pet treats, foods that are too large, and snacks that merely consist of too many empty calories. To avoid overfeeding your dog, pay attention to how many calories and the quality of those calories that you give through treats.
Feeding too many table scraps – although there may be nothing wrong with the human food that you’re giving your pet in and of itself, it may be that you’re still not factoring in those extra calories when feeding your dog table scraps. Counting calories is just as key for dogs in losing weight as it is for people. Because those table scraps can add up very quickly, you’ll want to make sure to nix the habit while your dog is dieting. Additionally, many people foods are hazardous to the canine’s digestive system.
Overfeeding your dog – most pet owners are not very aware of how much food they give their pet. Although most dog food packaging comes with instructions for how much to feed, pet owners frequently ignore these guidelines. Not following instructions can be a destructive habit, especially for those breeds that are likely to pack on the pounds.
So what should you do if you’ve been indulging in these unhealthy habits on behalf of your pet? Start scaling back. You may be worried if you make a dramatic change to your dog’s diet. For example, if you free feed, you may be concerned that your dog won’t adjust well if you suddenly make food available to them only three times a day for 20 minutes each time. Although your pet is likely to adapt well, if you’re concerned about scaling back on the amount you feed (just like if you give table scraps or too many treats), transition your pet over a period of a few days or weeks. If your dog’s habits have been poor for a long time, this may help them (and you) adjust more quickly to the new schedule. Start following the standard serving guidelines on your pet’s food, or seek direction from your veterinarian. Again, if you need to transition your pet, do so – but your goal should be to follow the guidelines on the dog food packaging or from your vet. Most of the time, the guidelines will outline a reasonable amount of nutrients and calories for your dog.
Importance of Diet to Slim Down Your Dog
If obesity has become a problem for your pup, it may also behoove you to start looking into the quality of their dog food. In the most general terms, the cheaper dog foods are often the least nutritious. Sometimes this doesn’t have to be a terrible thing (although it is certainly obviously preferable to have nutritious food available for your dog), though it can be a particular problem if your pet is struggling with their weight. While you may simply want to switch to a higher quality food, there are also many organic and weight management-related dog foods on the market. Talking with your veterinarian can help you determine whether or not switching the type of food you provide is necessary or beneficial, or if you simply need to focus on portion control.
Physical Activity is Crucial to Slim Down Your Dog
Exercise and physical activity will also help your pooch shed the pounds and maintain a healthy weight. If the amount of time you have is limited, work with your spouse or children when possible to design an exercise regimen. You also have the option of hiring a dog walker or even looking into doggie daycare, which usually provides your dog with lots of opportunity for activity. Make sure that the exercise you choose works for your pet – a large dog with joint problems may do better with water activities, while an animal that overheats quickly may benefit most from short workouts throughout the day, for example.
Other Options to Help Slim Your Dog to a Healthy Weight
When all else fails, you may need to consider one of two options: putting your pet on a prescription medication/diet, and /or examining more carefully whether there is an underlying medical reason your puppy is finding it hard to lose the weight. There are prescription foods and pills that could benefit your dog; apparently, these should only be taken as a last resort and under the supervision of your veterinarian. Your doctor can also help ensure that there isn’t another problem present contributing to the obesity. For example, dogs can suffer from hormonal imbalances or low thyroid levels, making weight loss more challenging.
Be patient with your pet’s weight loss efforts. Just like it takes us some time to lose weight, it will take your dog some time as well. By creating a healthier lifestyle and feeding a healthier diet, you will ensure that your pet will not only lose excess weight but will also be healthier and happier overall.
Photo: Courtesy of EuroMagic via Flickr (CC by 2.0)