Obesity in dogs is becoming an increasingly widespread health condition - approximately fifty percent of dogs are overweight, half of which are obese. But just because it’s common doesn’t make it healthy - the extra weight brings with it a host of detrimental health problems. Here’s how we can help our dogs shed those extra pounds.
High protein, low carbohydrates
A high protein and low carbohydrate diet is ideal for a weight loss journey! Proteins are converted to usable energy faster than carbs, and hence help to build lean muscles without the empty calories. As carbs are broken down slower, the excess sugar will be stored as body fats. Look for food with high protein content (like Fromm Family’s!) - if you’re a dry food feeder, consider cutting back on the kibbles and add water or someWholesome Paws broth into the mix. The extra liquid will aid in his digestion and and keep him fuller and satisfied for a longer time.
Reduce your dog’s portion size gradually over a couple of weeks until you start to see changes in his weight, then continue feeding that amount until target weight is reached. This helps to keep his metabolism in check and ensure that your dog is still getting sufficient food intake. You may also want to consider feeding smaller portions throughout the day to help him feel less hungry.
Reward with fun
It’s natural to reach for the bag of treats when rewarding your dog or when you can’t resist his charming smiles. But all these little pre- and post- snacks will add up and show themselves on the weighing scale. That is not to say that you should cut out the treats completely, your dog deserves some spoiling once in awhile. Instead, limit the number of treats and replace them with belly rubs and extra playtime!
Make a pact with the family
While it’s important to practise portion control and cut back on treats, it wouldn’t be possible if everyone in the family is not on the same page. All the portion controlling would have been for naught if your dog is getting some sneaky treats in here and there. Educate the family about the consequences if your dog’s weight is left as it is, and encourage them to turn to other ways of expressing love and affection rather than just through food.
Ironically, a good way to take your dog’s mind off food is to keep them occupied with a chew. A long lasting chew likeZeal’s spare ribs is enough to distract them for hours without having to worry excess calorie intake - with the bonus perk of a teeth cleaning sesh!
Increase activity levels
It goes without saying that ramping up your dog’s activity levels will aid significantly in the weight loss journey, especially if they were leading a sedentary lifestyle previously. Clock in more exercises geared to your dog’s needs and abilities, it’s important to transition slowly so that it sticks as a habit. Think of it as a partnership where the both of you are getting fit together - both parties have to be committed for this to work! Invest in a sturdyRuffwear harness to get the both of you excited for outdoor adventures together!
Just as it didn’t take a week to put on all that extra weight, don’t expect your dog to lose them overnight. In fact, you should aim for your dog to lose it gradually to prevent the body from going into starvation mode as it would slow down their metabolism. Losing one percent of body weight per week or one to two pounds per month until the target weight is attained would be the ideal case.
Kim is an avid dog lover, serial guac and chips eater, and thrill seeker - all in one body. Currently chillin’ with her dogs.