Helping Your Dog Lose Weight

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.

There are benefits to helping your dog lose weight.  A trimmer body enables your furry companion to take part in athletic endeavors and even puts less pressure on the joints for walking. Their cardiovascular health and blood pressure will be improved, and the need for medications will be reduced. In general, your pup's longevity is at stake when they are carrying a lot of extra pounds. 

Is there a reason my dog is overweight?

The most common reason for obesity in canines, medically speaking, is to do with the thyroid gland. Hypothyroidism, if left untreated, leads to weight gain and predisposes your pup to related illnesses.

There are plenty of other reasons for weight gain in dogs, including simple reasons like being overfed and a lack of regular exercise. Free-feeding is not always a healthy option for every dog, and some pet parents overfeed high calorie treats without realizing that they are contributing to a weight problem. Fatty and sugary table scraps are not only unhealthy for your dog but they pack the pounds on, too.

How Can I Help My Dog Lose Weight?

Does your dog need to lose some weight around the middle? Ideally, the plan is to feed your dog a healthy, proper diet from the first day you bring them home. Good nutrition throughout a dog’s life will help prevent serious health conditions, like hip dysplasia, liver disease, joint problems, and diabetes mellitus. 

Instill a feeding regimen

All well-meaning intentions aside, it is essential to stick to a measured two or three meal per day plan. Servings must be proportionate to your dog's age and height. 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 rely on the internet or similar sources to provide accurate nutritional guidelines. Your veterinarian knows your dog best, and nutritional needs vary for each individual case. Cutting down your dog’s fat intake may help them lose weight. 

However, you should be careful when searching for a low-fat diet and this is where the nutritionist or vet plays a part. Some low-fat dog food brands contain less protein than your dog needs, which can also cause health problems. Your four-legged friend's veterinarian or a certified canine nutritionist can provide the guidelines you need to properly feed your dog. 

Increase their exercise time

Your dog’s laid-back lifestyle may be to blame for their obesity. If your pup doesn’t get out enough, make regular exercise a priority. Doing so will benefit you and your furry companion. If your dog has led a primarily sedentary lifestyle, try implementing regular exercise before making dietary changes. Remember to increase exercise gradually to avoid traumatic injury and other problems. Once your dog is on the road to fitness, build upon the time you partake in activities to work on your dog's muscle mass as they lose the extra pounds.

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