Most humans begin to panic the minute they gain a little bit of weight. However, when it comes to our dogs, not many of us see it as a problem or give it much thought. Your dog, of course, won’t know whether they’re gaining weight or not, which is why the responsibility is on you to monitor their weight and prevent it from snowballing before it’s too late.
Weight loss is particularly important for dogs who suffer from arthritis. Leaner dogs are also known to live 15% longer than obese dogs of the same size and breed. So, if you feel your dog has gained weight, begin to incorporate changes gradually into their daily routines. In addition to helping them with their weight, you will also end up spending more quality time with them, which is always a blissful bonus.
The ideal weight of a dog cannot be determined by knowing their height or breed, which is why certain features must be observed to determine if a dog is overweight or not. Some of these factors include running your hands along the sides of your dog’s body to see if you can feel their ribs, seeing if their waist is properly defined, and so on. If you can’t feel their ribs or if their waist isn’t too visible, it’s time to start your dog’s weight loss journey towards better health.
How to Help Your Dog Lose Weight
When you begin to jot down the pointers to initiate your dog’s journey towards weight loss, make sure that everything is done gradually and not done all of a sudden, otherwise it can affect your dog’s health negatively. Here are some of the tips to follow to help your dog lose weight:
Check How Much You’re Feeding Your Dog
Ask yourself how you knew how much to feed your dog. Was it a vet’s recommendation? Or were you following the instructions that come on the body of the dog food product? If the latter is true, then there’s a chance that these inflated recommendations caused your dog to gain more weight; your dog is a whole entity and their food and nutritional needs cannot be generalized. Therefore, the first thing you should do is reduce their food intake by 5%. If they don’t begin to lose weight in a month, try increasing that to 10%.
Once you begin to decrease the portions, be prepared to face some puppy eyes and begging from your dog. When this happens, get them into the habit of having two to three smaller meals each day instead of one or two big meals, so that the number of meals makes them feel better about having a lighter plate.
Change Their Diet
Kibble is what most dogs eat. Not only is it easy to serve, but it also provides sufficient nutrition to your dog. Those who manufacture kibble make use of a form of carbohydrate to keep the ingredients bound together. While these carbohydrates lend a good amount of nutrition to your dog, they can also lead to weight gain.
Since dogs come from a lineage that mainly feasted on meats, their bodies aren’t designed in a manner so as to digest excessive carbohydrates. In order to help them with weight loss, reducing carbohydrates and increasing the level of protein is crucial.
Look for kibble, raw food, or canned food that has a low carb and high protein formulation. You can also see if what you’re currently feeding them is available in a low carb variety or not. When you look into the details about kibble, you will realize that only proteins aren’t enough to create it, because carbohydrates are necessary as well to keep it together. Raw food and canned food do not have these restrictions. Therefore, if you’re looking to reduce the amount of carbohydrates you feed your dog, raw and canned food with high protein options is a good choice.
Engage Them in Physical Activities
Exercising can feel like a chore for humans, but it is immensely fun for your dog. Whether it’s playing fetch or going for long walks, different dogs like to engage in different forms of physical activities. The smart thing to do is turn their favorite pastime into a form of daily exercise.
If your dog is not used to a lot of daily exercise per day, it’s best to start out slow and steady. Even engaging in 20 minutes of exercise a couples of times each week is a good way to begin. Keep observing your dog to see when they’re ready to stop, because you don’t want to be overexerting them. You can also divide the 20-minute session into three smaller sessions. Once your dog gets used to this level of physical exercise, your aim should be to ensure that they are engaging in 20 minutes of exercise twice every single day.
For dogs who have arthritis, joint diseases, or have reached an older age, swimming makes for a great alternative for weight loss. In addition to being a low-impact workout, it’s also a full-body exercise that can be very beneficial for your dog. Consult your vet about the best kind of exercise for your dog based on their age, breed, and physical condition.
Keep an Eye on the Treats
Let’s be real: none of us can resist that adorable face when it’s asking for treats, which is why it’s okay to give your dog treats every now and then, but they are a sneaky contributor to weight gain. Start monitoring these treats and make sure others in the household aren’t contributing to over-snacking.
Look into the calorie intake associated with these treats, because on a daily basis, treats cannot make for more than 10% of the total calories. It will eventually harm your dog and defeat the entire purpose of trying to make them lose weight if you continue to give them treats that are high on both carbs as well as calories. Therefore, paying close attention to the treats you give your dog is important to ensure that their diet remains balanced.