Once upon a time, the biggest threat to humanity was widespread starvation due to a lack of food. We now face the opposite problem. As our eating habits changed, so did our pets’ – today, more than half of all dogs in America are overweight or obese.
Packing on too many pounds is dangerous for your dog’s health. It can cause disease and even shorten your dog’s lifespan. Thankfully, obesity is preventable, and often reversible, for both humans and their furry friends.
How to Help Your Dog Lose Weight
Does your dog need to lose some weight around his middle? Read on to find out how you can help your pawesome pal shed those extra pounds, and prevent them from accumulating in the future.
Start off on the right foot. (Or should we say “paw”?)
Puns aside, you should feed your dog a healthy, proper diet from the first day you bring him home. Good nutrition throughout a dog’s life will help prevent serious health conditions, like hip dysplasia, liver disease, joint problems, and diabetes mellitus.
Make sure your dog is actually overweight.
A bloated tummy doesn’t automatically mean your dog is overweight. Like humans, overweight and obese mean different things for different dogs. Only your vet can determine if your dog is truly overweight.
Avoid giving your dogs too many leftovers.
Most of us treat our pets like family members, and we want them to indulge in the same luxuries we do. But those small tidbits after dinner really add up. Only give your dog table food – and other treats – on occasion.
Most dogs will eat until they’re sick, even if they’re full. That’s because they were traditionally scavengers, and would eat as much as they could when they could. Even though domesticated dogs are fed regularly and often, that instinct still remains. Follow the specific feeding guidelines listed on your dog’s food packaging.
Know your dog’s nutritional needs.
Your veterinarian should examine your dog annually, and inform you of any special dietary requirements and fluctuations in weight. Don’t trust the internet or similar sources to provide accurate nutritional guidelines. Your veterinarian knows your dog best, and nutritional needs vary for each individual case.
Increase his exercise.
Your dog’s sedentary lifestyle may be to blame for his obesity. If your pup doesn’t get out much, make regular exercise a priority. Remember to increase exercise gradually to avoid traumatic injury and other problems.
Low-Fat Dog Food
Cutting down your dog’s fat intake may help him lose weight. However, you should be careful when searching for a low-fat diet. Some low-fat dog food brands contain less protein than the dog needs, which can also cause health problems.
If your dog has led a primarily sedentary lifestyle, try implementing regular exercise before making dietary changes. Dogs that are already overweight can eat a normal amount of food and still be overweight. That’s because the body requires, and subsequently burns, less energy.
If you’re particularly worried about your dog’s fat intake, consult with your veterinarian to find out how much fat your dog needs to consume each day. Then make dietary changes accordingly. Always consult your veterinarian before changing your dog’s diet.