Humans are not the only ones struggling with obesity. Over 50% of dogs are considered overweight. Like with people, that extra weight can bring health problems. If you aren’t sure what your dog’s ideal weight is, talk to your vet. Then what do you do once you decide your dog needs to lose weight? Keep reading to find out!
Determine the Goals
First, you need to work with your vet to discuss dietary expectations. When you go on a diet, you know what your body is telling you. Your dog can’t communicate that to you, so you’ll need to rely on your vet’s advice to help craft a meal plan for them. You’ll also want to make sure that the vet rules out an underlying medical cause. There are some medical problems that can lead to extra weight, like Cushing’s Disease and Hypothyroidism; no amount of dieting will be able to fix the weight gain from those. Let your vet help you calculate the target calories a day for a safe rate of weight loss.
Feed Smarter Meals
Rather than three big meals, consider six smaller meals. It leads to less severe spikes in insulin that can contribute to the problem rather than help. It may be an adjustment for your dog, but they will adapt eventually. Just be consistent. You can also use the puzzle feeders to help slow down ingestion and help them feel full sooner. Your vet may recommend an appropriate diet food, or they may suggest that you portion control better. Stick with their recommendations as much as you can.
Ah, the hard part for humans and dogs alike. It would be so much easier if we could lose weight just by controlling what we eat. It’s so much easier not to do something than it is to do something. Sometimes it’s easier to tweak what exercise they are already getting. Stretch your walks out 10-20% longer, change your route to be a little more challenging, or encourage a faster pace. If necessary, you can also increase how active your playtime is – within your dog’s abilities, of course. Make sure you don’t push them too far!
Dogs are the cutest, and your dog is even cuter to you. Your pup is going to use every trick in the book to get more food out of you. After all, you have always given it treats before, and they don’t necessarily understand why you are feeding them less. They will get used to the new food amount – but only if you stick with it, even though the puppy dog eyes are ridiculously adorable! The dog treats have calories on the label for a reason; they count toward their daily calories too! You will need to keep track of all the yummy gifts given to your dog during the day. Try giving them love and praise instead of a treat when they beg. It is all affection to your dog, and they may accept that and stop giving your pouty faces. If not, you can use a couple of pieces of their kibble instead. Otherwise, set aside a portion of treats for the day; you can break each one into smaller pieces to appease your dog at treat time. Do not let them guilt you into treating them! You are doing this for their good, remember that!
It isn’t any easier for your dog to diet than it is for you, but they have one advantage that you don’t – they can’t cheat on their diet without your help. Don’t let your furry best friend down. Help them live a happier, healthier life by encouraging healthy habits. With the increased walks and playtime, you may even lose a few pounds, too!