Like people, dogs can be overweight, and when they get fat, it can do more than damage their self-esteem. Being overweight can cause a wide range of health issues for dogs, including joint problems,
While some dog breeds are genetically predisposed to obesity, individual owners have a responsibility to keep their pets at the right weight.
Many owners choose to ignore the risks associated with keeping their dog overweight and, as a result, end up having it taken away from them or giving it up for adoption for any reason. Rescue dogs that are overweight tend to have trouble finding homes, but some adopters will realize their potential.
In other cases, rescue centers might send these overweight dogs to foster homes to get slim before putting them up for adoption. This approach gives the dog the chance to adjust to their new weight before they go to their forever home.
If you’re fostering or rescuing a dog that’s overweight, here are some tips on how to help them shed the pounds and get back to living life to the fullest.
Talk To Your Vet
Weight issues are usually due to owner neglect issues, such as overfeeding and under-exciting dogs, but there might be an underlying health condition causing problems, such as a food allergy. Before you start exploring weight loss techniques, take your dog to the vet to see what they think and get any necessary advice.
By visiting the vet, you can ensure that your dog is safe and has the best possible chance of a long and healthy life once they’ve lost some of the extra weight. Regular vet visits during the weight loss process will help you to see how much weight they are losing and adjust their diet and exercise regime accordingly.
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Find Them A Nutritious Diet
Many overweight dogs have been fed poor-quality dog food in the past, so finding them a delicious meal that will give them all the nutrients they need without any filler content is crucial. If you feed your rescue dog a high-quality meal, then you won’t need to give them as much food, and they’ll still feel full of energy.
Many dog owners are switching over to raw dog food to help their dogs get natural nutrients and encourage their gnawing instincts. When looking for a raw dog food brand, check out options that contain natural meats and limited additives. Southend Dog Training offers an extensive raw dog food range featuring a variety of different flavors and options, so explore their products to find ones that will tempt your dog.
Measure Their Portions
It’s not just what your dog eats that’s important: you also need to think about how much they have. Talk to your vet about portion sizes for your dog, and then be vigilant about weighing out their food so they only get as much as they need.
Measuring cups aren’t always accurate, so try using scales to see exactly how much food your dog is getting and make sure it’s consistent. As your dog loses weight and starts doing more exercise, you may need to adjust their meals, but you should do this with advice from your vet and only after weighing your pet to see how much weight they’ve lost.
Set A Treat Allowance
As well as regular meals, all dogs should have some treats throughout the day, but for overweight dogs, you need to be careful about how many they get. Set a treat allowance for your dog each day, and don’t let them have more than that amount. This treat allowance can be deducted from their meals to ensure they’re not eating more food than they should be each day.
As your dog loses weight and becomes more active you can be less vigilant about their treat allowance, but when they first come to you and start the weight loss process, you need to be strict and avoid giving them too many treats, no matter how cute they are!
Increase Excerice Slowly
While food is important, you also need to get your dog moving to help them lose weight. An overweight dog won’t be able to walk miles or run on a treadmill for long periods, but you can start slowly introducing them to new activities to get them moving.
Start with short walks and games such as catch or tug to get them used to exercise. Increase the duration and intensity of their activities gradually as they lose weight to avoid injury but also help them burn off energy and have fun. Low-impact exercise like swimming is a great option for overweight dogs, as it won’t put too much pressure on their already overworked joints.
Make Your Dog Work For Food
Many dogs gobble up their meals as soon as they see them, but this can lead to bloating and leave them feeling less full after eating. To combat this issue, use a slow feeder bowl to stop them from eating so fast, or even try hand feeding them to begin with to get them to slow down.
Also, you could try using puzzle toys and kibble dispensing balls to give them food so they have to move to get their meals. These solutions will help your dog to burn mental and physical energy, as well as improve their relationship with food.
Use Positive Reinforcement
While your new dog may need to lose weight, they still have to eat. By giving them praise and positive reinforcement, you can encourage them to eat their allotted amount of food each day and enjoy exercise, which will help them to shift the pounds.
Positive reinforcement and affection will help them stay motivated and happy through the process, and it’ll make it more enjoyable for them and you. Use the process of helping your dog lose weight as a chance to bond with your new pet and make them a beloved part of your family.