Recent studies have shown that between 25 and 40 percent of dogs in the United States are overweight. Is yours? If so, you can help your dog shed unwanted weight and still give him the nutrition your wingman needs. Here’s how:
Is Your Dog Overweight?
Before you begin a weight-loss plan for your dog, follow these steps to be sure he really needs to lose some pounds. Place your hands on the sides of his rib cage and carefully run your palms down to his sternum.
- If the ribs are protruding out, your dog is likely too thin.
- If you can feel his ribs individually and his abdomen is slightly tucked up when you view him, he's at a good weight.
- If you can't easily detect his ribs, he lacks a waist, and/or his belly drags, he needs to lose weight.
The Cause of Canine Obesity
Like people, several variables contribute to a dog's increased weight:
- They eat more calories than they burn (especially if they eat large amounts of people food).
- They don't exercise enough.
- Their metabolism slows (especially true following surgery to spay or neuter).
- They are given too many dog treats.
How to Help Your Dog Safely Lose Weight
Follow these steps to help your dog safely shed any extra pounds:
- Reduce his caloric intake by 25 percent on the first day. Then, every two to three days, decrease it by another 10 percent until a 1 percent weight loss per week is achieved (e.g., your dog weighs 15 pounds, a 1 percent loss would be about 2.5 ounces).
- If your dog currently receives one large meal per day, try dividing it into two or three mini-meals. Remove any uneaten food 30 minutes after each meal. These mini-meals will sustain his appetite longer.
- Instead of treats, give him an extended amount of affection.
- Increase his exercise routine to burn more energy. Play fetch with a new toy, or go for an extra-long walk after work. However, don't push too hard at first. Just like people, dogs need time to get used to a new exercise routine.
- Get the entire family on board. Explain how treats are harmful, and ask for everyone’s cooperation.
Your dog doesn't have to feel famished as he loses weight. Feed him nutritionally sound food made especially for overweight dogs. Premium brands such as Eukanuba® offer formulas such as Eukanuba Adult Weight Control that maintain an excellent ratio of protein, fat, and fiber while allowing your dog to feel full. Once your dog meets his goal weight, a premium maintenance food will help him stay there.
You love your dog no matter how he looks. But if you feed him right, you will help him live a healthier life that you both can enjoy.