Pets mean the world to many of us, and their health and wellness are our priority. However, we often ignore the seriousness of obesity as a health problem.
On average, 59% of all dogs are overweight.
Increased weight can strain a dog’s back and joints and can cause damage to the respiratory system. Obese dogs have shorter life expectancies and are a risk of multiple diseases that can range from diabetes to cancer. If you have an overweight dog, here’s how you can help it lose weight:
Work With Your Vet
Getting to your pet’s doctor is perhaps the most important step when working on stubborn weight gain. Your vet is more qualified to give you the best estimates of the number of calories your dog needs daily. Though you can get your estimates from several sources, each dog’s ideal caloric intake varies depending on the condition of the body and muscles, lifestyle, age, and health.
Additionally, several medical conditions like low thyroid activity or fluid retention can cause weight gain. If a disorder is behind the weight gain, proper medication, ideal diet, and exercise will have to go hand-in-hand. Getting a holistic analysis by a doctor is necessary to rule out or factor in the effects of any illness.
Once you’ve determined the ideal calorie intake for your dog, the next step is to assess your dog’s diet for the number of calories it has. Traditional dog food is full of carbohydrate-based fillers that digest quickly and have your dog asking for more food more often.
Whole and fresh foods are better for your dog as they keep them full for longer while satisfying their nutrient requirements. Go for low calorie dog food rich in high-quality protein, fiber, and moisture.
Keep an Eye On Treats
Opting for healthy, low-calorie foods while giving the dog highly processed foods may thwart your weight loss plans. Treats are invaluable help when training dogs, and they add a much-needed variety to their food. However, variety should not entail carelessness. The dog’s food plan needs to incorporate the calories added by treats.
Regardless of whether or not your dog is facing an obesity problem, go for healthy treats to supplement your dog’s diet. Natural, unprocessed foods like chopped fruit and veggies work great as rewards while being low on calories. Make processed treats, especially peanut butter, a rarity. Be very careful when feeding dogs chocolates and avoid anything with Xylitol at all costs.
Dogs love outdoor activities, so use them to their full potential. Walking, running, hiking, and playing games are all great ways to supplement your dog’s weight loss plan. However, you will have to work with your vet to determine a good exercise schedule, especially if your dog faces an underlying medical issue. Dogs with respiratory or heart conditions can get overtaxed easily, so caution is prudent.
Remember to stick to soft surfaces like grass if your dog is less than 12 months old, as hard surfaces can damage the joints of younger dogs. Start very slow and increase the intensity and duration of exercises over time.
Equipment like exercise balls can be a great addition to your dog’s exercise routine to help build muscle strength. Timed sports like Agility are fun and helpful in burning calories as well.
Be very aware of your dog’s reactions during physical activities. Slow down or stop when excessive panting or heavy breathing starts to occur. Exercise indoors during summers to avoid overheating.
Weight loss is a long journey for humans and animals both; you can not rush the process. Overexerting your dog or changing the food all at once can hurt them both mentally and physically, so remember to work slowly and steadily.
Visit your vet regularly during the weight loss process to get accurate assessments of your dog’s health. With persistent efforts, you will be able to improve your pet’s quality of life immensely.