Dogs of all shapes and sizes make loving and devoted companion animals. They appreciate their owners and are content and comfortable with life, sometimes too comfortable. Humans are also happy to show their affection for their furry family members by giving them treats, many of which are not low in calories.
It’s not surprising, then, that dogs are in the midst of an obesity crisis, just like humans. According to Purina.com, obesity is the number one nutritional problem in dogs.
The damages of canine obesity
How bad could obesity be for dogs? A dog’s body and metabolism are like a human’s. Obesity can affect a dog’s health, causing many of the health problems that obese humans also face. For example, being overweight increases a dog’s risk of developing diabetes and heart disease, but it can also affect her quality of life.
For example, being overweight or obese increases the risk or worsens osteoarthritis in dogs. Dogs that carry too much weight are also at higher risk for orthopedic problems, such as a herniated disc.
Additionally, veterinarians believe that obesity increases a dog’s risk of developing some types of cancer and shortens its lifespan. According to the American Kennel Club, obesity can reduce a dog’s lifespan by 2.5 years.
Are you ready to help your dog lose a few pounds? If so, here are some effective tips to help your overweight dog lose weight.
Make sure there is no medical reason for the weight gain
If your dog is gaining weight, rule out a medical cause first. For example, your dog may have a health problem that is causing her to gain weight, such as diabetes, and treating that problem can reduce her weight.
Common medical conditions that cause weight gain in dogs include an underactive thyroid gland or fluid retention due to heart failure or kidney disease. Your vet can also offer advice on how to help your dog lose weight based on the examination and the results of laboratory studies.
Aging can also be a factor. Just as humans gain weight with age, so do canines. However, age-related weight gain can often be treated through lifestyle changes.
Re-evaluate your dog’s food
Be sure to feed your dog high-quality dog food. Look for food made for overweight dogs that is lower in calories but still rich in nutrients. Most vets believe that the best diet for an overweight dog is:
- high protein
- Low in fat
- Low in calories
Don’t guess how much to feed them either. Read the label and give the exact recommended amount based on his size and weight.
Examine the treats you give your dog
Read the labels on the dog treats you buy, too. Choose treats made with high-quality ingredients that are low in calories. Although some human treats are unhealthy for dogs, there are exceptions. However, be sure not to give your dog human foods that may be harmful to them. Check with the ASPCA’s poison control site for a list of foods not to feed your dog.
However, dogs can benefit from some vegetables. Why not substitute a raw carrot or apple for that higher calorie dog biscuit? You can even add a thin layer of peanut butter to an apple or carrot to make it more appealing. Think about the additional nutrients your dog is receiving as well. Another option is to give your dog a natural bone to chew on instead of a high-calorie treat.
Dogs need physical activity just like humans. Help each other stay active by taking a brisk walk every day. Everyone benefits! Still, this might not be enough to keep your dog lean. That’s why it’s so important to watch your calorie intake and nutrition. Another way to help your dog stay active is to enroll him in doggy daycare where he can play with other dogs during the day. How about more trips to the dog park, too?
Get everyone involved
Make sure everyone in your household is on board with keeping your pup slim. He can limit the treats he gives Rufus, but what about other family members? It’s hard to resist those pleading eyes begging for a bite! Make sure everyone who comes in contact with your dog knows how important it is to limit treats to keep him healthy.
If you are consistent with these changes, you can make a difference in your dog’s body weight and health. Be patient too. Veterinarians say that dogs should not lose more than 7% of their body weight per month. Don’t make extreme dietary changes or restrict your calories too much. They need good nutrition, especially if they are active. Make minor changes and let the weight slowly fall off.