It’s just as important to keep an eye on your dog’s weight as it is your own. Overweight dogs are susceptible to a number of conditions, including cancer, heart disease and diabetes. If your vet has recommended that your dog should lose a few pounds, you need to help him do so straight away. It’s much easier for an overweight dog to return to its ideal weight than an obese one. Here are some tips on how to help your dog lose weight.
Give them specific meal times
Dogs, a bit like us, will eat even when they’re not hungry. Therefore, if you give them access to food 24/7, they will inevitably eat more than they need. The best thing to do is to ask your vet how much your dog needs to consume each day, then work out the number of small meals this is equal to and don’t forget to include treats too in this calculation. Ideally, dogs should eat two or three portions of food a day. Remember to measure each portion – don’t just guess! Otherwise you could end up overfeeding them.
We all like to treat our dogs, but too many can cause them to put on weight. Treats should only be used to reward good behaviour – don’t just give them a little something because you feel guilty for going out and leaving them. Make sure the treats that you do hand out are small; break up bigger ones into little pieces if you need to.
If you’d like to avoid giving out a lot of treats, you can always reward your dog by simply giving them positive attention. Exclaiming “Good dog!” and rubbing their belly when they’ve obeyed a command is just as good for reinforcement as a chew stick.
Avoid low-fat diets
It may seem to make sense to switch to a diet dog food whilst your pet is trying to lose weight, but some of these don’t work as well as they claim. In particular, you should look out for ‘low-fat’ dog food. It might sound good, but dogs actually need a moderate amount of fat in their diet, because it’s the thing that makes them feel full. Swapping their regular diet for a low-fat one may cause them to food steal or eat food remains when out on a walk. Instead, stick to high protein, low carbohydrate dog foods.
Make sure they get plenty of exercise
Exercise, and lots of it, is key to losing weight, whether you’re a human or a dog. However it may be tricky to get a lazy dog off the sofa, so don’t force them to do too much too soon. Start with short walks on the lead, and gradually extend the length of the stroll over time.
For more energetic dogs, you’ll want to play a lot of games with them. Try to stick to activities they naturally enjoy. For example, hunting breeds, such as retrievers and spaniels, love fetching things, whereas hounds like Beagles and Dachshunds prefer puzzle toys.
Chewing something can also keep dogs busy and active. Some toys even help clean your pet’s teeth! We highly recommend stagbars!
What if weight problems persist?
If you’ve been sticking to your dogs new diet and exercise regime, but he hasn’t lost any weight yet, it might be because your guests or other family members are secretly feeding him. Those puppy-dog eyes are too much for grandma to resist; she’s been sneaking your pet bits of turkey under the table every Sunday.
For this reason, it’s vital to tell all guests that your dog is on a special diet, and must not be fed anything else. If you suspect they won’t listen, keep an eye on them! Your dog may also be taking food from your other pet’s bowls. Again, you’ll need to look out for food stealing. If it’s the cat’s meals they’re taking, place the moggie’s bowl higher up, where your dog can’t reach it.
Ultimately, you should always consult your vet. They can offer the best advice when it comes to pet weight loss. Hopefully, though, the above tips will help your dog get back to a healthier weight.