If you own a dog, then you will know how important it is to help your furry friend maintain not only their overall health, but also their weight. Having an overweight dog is not a desirable situation to find yourself in, because this in turn can often cause multiple other unwanted medical issues down the line.
Keeping this in mind, you might need to help your dog lose weight if it appears overweight. If your dog loses that unwanted weight, they will most often be able to continue living a healthy life. The only problem here is that owners do not admit that their dogs are overweight. Instead, they claim that their dog is just ‘big boned’. They also might point out that their dog barely eats. While that might very well be true, your dog still might be a couch potato and this can also be unhealthy, as in such a case, dogs consume more calories than they burn in a day.
Let us help you out by giving you some tips and pointers on how you can help your dog lose weight.
How Should You Start a Weight Loss Plan?
It may seem simple to reduce the number of calories being consumed and helping your dog burn more in a day. However, it is often not that easy.
You will often need to make a trip to your local veterinarian and inform them of your decision to help your dog lose weight. They will very often do a thorough check up, and after they give you the green signal, they will usually monitor and recommend a plan for your dog’s weight loss. That plan might for example state your dog’s first target weight. This target will probably be higher than the ideal weight to ensure they remain healthy. Once that target is achieved, new targets will sometimes be set.
You need to keep in mind that for a dog, weight loss should be a very gradual process. That will help keep you in the safe zone by not causing any disruptions in your dog’s emotional and mental health.
After calculating your dog’s ideal weight according to their size and breed, you will know exactly how many calories to feed your dog to help them lose weight at a steady pace. Every dog requires a different approach, for example some might require a smaller number of calories to lose weight than others. Your veterinarian will be able to help you figure out the best approach.
It is important to note here that you often cannot trust the labels on food packaging because they are intended for weight maintenance. You often need to know the number of calories in a cup or bowl of food. Another important factor is that you must use a proper measuring cup. Do not risk the whole plan by guessing the amount of food you’re giving to your dog, because you want to make sure this plan helps your dog lose weight.
Also, we all give out treats to our pets for their behavior and obedience, so do not forget to add them (in moderation) to your calculation.
Feeding Your Dog
Some dog owners tend to feed their dogs when they ask for food, and some keep filling up their bowls when they see them empty. However, that is often not how you want to feed your dog. Just like us, when dogs get bored, they end up eating and that can make them gain weight. More importantly, that is not how any animal would consume food in their natural habitat.
What you need to focus on is to provide your dog with a measured amount of food. That food needs to be divided for example into two meals or several small portions, to be given throughout the day. The total calorie intake should be in accordance with the weight loss plan. If your schedule does not allow you to feed your dog this way, you should consider getting a timed, automatic feeder.
Quality of Food
Counting calories is as important as keeping the quality of food in check. Quality food means that it should be low on carbs, whole, and as fresh as possible.
Veterinarians often recommend a balanced diet of carbohydrates and protein to help your dog lose extra fat and build muscle while maintaining the right amount of energy. They also encourage fresh food because the quality of protein in fresh food cannot be matched by processed food. Not to mention, the moisture, freshness, and fibres satisfy your dog.
Exercise & Activity
For a weight loss plan to truly work, food is one component, while exercise is the other. That means you need to keep your dog active. Most of the time, your dog will need an extra push if they are not used to regular exercise. To help them do that, you should exercise with your dog. This could include walking or jogging daily, playing fetch in a park, and swimming etc. It will often help motivate your dog to exercise with you, and in turn, they will stay active and burn calories.