Have you noticed that your dog has packed on a few extra pounds recently? Got a chunky puppy on your hands? Has your veterinarian mentioned something to you about your dog’s weight gain? It might be time to learn how to help your dog lose weight. Always consult your veterinarian before putting your dog on any extra exercise or dietary plan to ensure the safety of your dog.
Importance of Maintaining Ideal Weight
Check out the chart below for a general guideline of how your dog will look at his ideal weight. Many benefits stem from keeping your dog at his ideal weight. Like humans, dogs have more energy, better skin quality, and better fur/hair quality when they are at their ideal weight. They tend to be more playful and happy too. Some lesser known benefits would include better heart health, longer life-span, better joint health, and generally your dog is more comfortable at his ideal weight. When I say “comfortable”, I mean that he won’t feel bloated or out of breath all the time.
What do think of when you think of weight loss programs? Diet and exercise, right? We’ll cover the special diet in a moment, but for now let’s focus on exercise. For your dog, exercise can be in many different forms. You could play a game of fetch for 10-15 minutes, or go for a 20-30 minute walk, or practice agility obstacles, or go swimming. I recommend finding two exercises that your dog enjoys the most and setting aside 30-60 minutes every day to exercise with him. When we were helping our dog Molly lose weight, we would take a 30 minute walk every day after work, followed by a 10-15 minute game of fetch. Not only was she happily worn out afterward, but we could see results in the first couple weeks. You should also keep in mind that all dogs have limits. If you are unsure of your dog’s physical limitations, take it easy the first few days and gradually ramp up the activity level. If your dog seems like he cannot get cooled down or super-lethargic after exercising, you have likely exceeded his limit.
Let’s talk about modifying your dog’s diet. There are a couple different options that I recommend. You can either feed your dog special diet food in the same quantity that you always do, OR you can feed your dog his normal food and slightly decrease the quantity of his food at each meal. Coming back to my own personal experience with Molly, we added the exercise regiment and cut her food intake down from 1 1/2 scoops to 1 1/4 scoops of dry food. If you are more interested in switching to special diet food, there are prescription foods that your vet can offer, but there are also diet foods that you can get from your local pet supply store or online at Amazon.com. Again, you really need to consult with your vet before modifying your dog’s diet.
Cut Down on the Treats!
Along the same lines, you should probably cut back on the quantity of treats you are feeding your dog. You could substitute your dog’s normal treats with healthier options like homemade dog treats or baby carrots. My girls also like string beans and apples as healthy alternatives to their normal treats. Not all fruits are safe for pets to eat, such as grapes. You can consult PetMD for a list of fruits and vegetables that are safe for pets.
For additional information on how to help your dog lose weight, please leave a comment with specific questions and I will be happy to help!