Being a responsible pet owner means keeping your dog in good shape. But this can be difficult for pet lovers because chubby dogs seem adorable at first glance.
You might want to rethink liking another #fatdoggo post on your social media feed, however, because that dog could already be suffering from obesity. Data shows that 56% of dogs in the US are obese or overweight, and the condition is linked to health problems like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and arthritis.
But there’s no need for you to worry because simply knowing the importance of weight awareness can go a long way in overcoming overweight dog problems.
Maintaining a healthy weight for your dog translates to a better quality of life. It also reduces the risk of conditions associated with obesity.
It can be difficult to help your dog lose weight especially if they beg or whine, though. That’s why you’ll need to strengthen your resolve and make sure that you’re doing the right things to help them maintain the proper body weight.
What is a Healthy Weight for my Dog?
At this point, you’re probably asking yourself how to help your dog lose weight. It all starts with finding out what their healthy weight is. It can be rather hard to point a finger on your pet’s ideal weight, however, especially if they’ve been overweight ever since they were a puppy.
To find out the healthiest weight for your dog, consult your veterinarian. A vet will tell you the most appropriate weight based on your pet’s age, breed, and gender. For example, certain breeds are more likely to gain weight than others, such as pugs, beagles, and golden retrievers.
The best way to assess if your dog has a healthy weight at home is to ask yourself these questions:
- Is their waist visible?
- Can you easily feel their ribs?
- Do they have an hourglass shape when you stand behind them?
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, there’s a possibility that your dog might be overweight.
What to do If Your Dog is Obese
Sometimes, weight loss for dogs can be easy when all you have to do is reduce calories and increase exercise. But other times, shedding off those excess pounds isn’t as simple. Below we’ve listed down some vet-approved recommendations on how you can help your dog lose weight.
Limit Daily Calorie Intake
The first step is for you to religiously follow a daily calorie limit for your pet. It’s alright to have a cheat day every now and then but you’ll still need to monitor their daily calorie count. Your vet can tell you the ideal calorie count and what your weight goal should be.
You may use the calorie calculator for dogs on the Pet Nutrition Alliance website to track the calories that your pet consumes. This tool will help you calculate your dog’s calorie intake. Once you’ve calculated the amount, divide the number by the kcal/cup number found on your dog’s food bag.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Apart from counting calories, another important part of weight loss is feeding your dog whole, fresh food with low carbs.
A lot of processed dog food contains carb-based fillers. In fact, if you break down some of its ingredients, it’ll translate to about 60% carbs — which can be a lot. What your pet needs is a diet that balances both protein and carbs. So make sure you follow a whole, fresh diet with enough protein and fiber. Nutrient-dense, bioavailable food is also a great option.
Break Up Meals
Feeding your dog in small portions can help them lose weight. You may want to consider taking your dog’s daily ration then splitting it into three to six parts. Taking multiple, small meals takes more energy to digest so it can help your pet burn more calories.
Taking small meals every four to six hours can also help stabilize your dog’s insulin levels. Moreover, breaking up meals can also reduce appetite spikes and keep your pooch full for most of the day. As long as their body is able to metabolize properly, your dog can easily shed the extra pounds.
Control Treat Intake
We all love our dogs and don’t want to deny them dog treats. After all, giving your dog treats can be an effective training aid. It can also be pretty fun seeing them wagging their tails in excitement over a dog treat. But if you plan to give your dog some treats, make sure they make up no more than 10% of your pet’s daily calorie intake.
Vets recommend giving your pets treats like fresh fruits or veggies over mystery meat. Other healthy options include broccoli, celery, green beans, baby carrots, cucumbers, and bananas.
Eating healthy food is important to losing weight but a weight loss plan isn’t complete without exercise. If you’re wondering how long your dog should be working out, an hour of exercise is a good target.
Just be careful not to make the transition to daily exercise too abrupt. If your pet hasn’t been exercising at all, you can start with short walks. If they already exercise, you might want to lengthen the activities they do by at least 10%-20%. In particular, walking is a good form of exercise because it works out the entire body and improves mental function.
Get Your Dog On Track to a Healthy Lifestyle
At the end of the day, the best weight management strategy is to follow healthy habits consistently. After all, you can’t rush weight loss for your pet. It’s all about making small decisions every day so that your furry companion will stay fit and well in the long-term.