Have you been frustrated by your dog gaining lots of weight and nothing you have tried helps? How to help a dog lose weight is something veterinarians and dog guardians have been faced with.
Since I was a child we always had dogs in our household. They were of different breeds and sizes. Fed the same diet, but some of them would gain extra weight very quickly.
Seeing this I started to gather information on why some dogs suffered more. I have collated information from advice I was given from our vet and my search hours on the internet.
The information I have found is that a different approach is needed for each individual family pet. Helping your beloved dog might be easier than you think. Determination to give your dog the best life possible is the first step forward.
Why is it important to monitor a dog’s weight?
Overweight or obese dogs can have a shorter lifespan than their ideal weight friends. As dogs can develop serious health issues if they struggle with weight gain.
If a dog is heavy, they interact less with their family. It is easy to think that dog is just lazy rather than not feeling well due to extra weight.
Some of the common disorders associated with excess weight include:
- type 2 diabetes
- heart disease
- osteoarthritis (arthritis)
- increased frequency of joint injuries
- high blood pressure
- some forms of cancer – especially intra-abdominal cancer (1)
Diet, Treats, Exercise and Monitoring seem to be the backbone of dogs losing weight.
It is important to establish what your dog is eating at the moment.
Morning, after the walk, spilt food, after dinner leftovers- do they really only get their 2 meals a day?
How much I should feed my dog is an important component to consider for your dog’s wellbeing.
First dogs ideal weight has to be known. Your local vet will be able to assist with this. They will take into consideration the size and bread of your pet. If a dog is obese a target weight might be given first.
It is important that a dog diet provide:
- essential vitamins and minerals for optimal body healths
- favour the loos of fat
- maintain muscle mass
Ensure that your pet feels full, so they voluntarily eat less. If they constantly feel hungry they will beg for food.
Slow down fast eaters:
- maze balls
- hide food in crumpled sheet (make sure they do not eat the sheet)
- spread the good out in the garden for them to find it
Consistency of the amount is key:
- separate the daily amount of dog food in a separate container
- make sure that nobody else in the house feeds the dog more food
2. Can I give treats to my dog?
We all like to give our pets treats. And out pets really enjoy them, but treats are filled with lots of sugar.
The bottom line is- we can absolutely give treats to dog.
Follow these tips below:
- no more than 10% of their daily food intake
- stick to lover calory treats
(ranging from low calory commercial treats to carrots, green beans, popcorn and rice crackers)
- we can keep back some of the dog’s daily allowance food to give as treats
- treats are things that bring joy.
It does not have to be food– gives time, takes for a walk, teaches a new trick. Both will feel rewarded by this.
3. What is the best exercise for a dog to lose weight?
An exercise is an important tool for any weight loss program. After all, if you increase energy spend, weight loss has to be a result.
Yet, exercise without reducing feeding amount will not give desired results.
Increase the length and frequency of regular exercise is a great start.
Be aware that an obese pet will get tired quicker. As they get fitter, they will be able to exercise more. That will be great to see and a great marker to their improved quality of life.
Be really careful to throw a ball. The force involved with somebody stopping or turning can result in an injury, such as ligament damage.
Consider joining dog training or agility class. It is a great physical and mental workout. As well as providing you and your pet with fun and sociable experience.
Controlled exercise such as hydrotherapy is an excellent strategy. It is especially appropriate for animals suffering from joint disease. This is also great for owners who cannot exercise dog more regularly by other means.
Exercise for pet means:
- maintenance of muscle
- acts as a treat
- takes away the temptation for us to give them snacks
- help them stop begging for food
- mental stimulation
- improves our pets quality of life
4. Monitoring is gold
We want to be certain our efforts are resulting in weight loss.
It should aim for 1% -2% of your dog’s body weight loss per week.
It is important the weight is not lost too quickly. An animal which is at least 30% overweight. Weight loss program is a real commitment, and there is no such thing as a quick fix.
The commitment made is well worth it:
A happier, healthier life.
What if we weight our dog and no weight loss has been achieved. Do not despair.
Consider items below:
- amount of food might need to be reduced to achieve weight loss
- check that none of your family is sneaking your pet extra treats
- feeding record or food diary might help with this
- are we ourselves giving in to their begging
- are we sure that we are feeding the best diet, to reduce begging behaviour
- maybe they are eating at daycare
- are they helping themselves to the neighbour’s food bowl
A little detective work can go a long way.
Regular weigh-in at the vet is a great way to stay on track and measure results.
Your vet will be happy to see an obese dog losing weight and this enthusiasm will help you to bet motivated too.
3-6 month time frame should be given for the ideal weight to be achieved.
Every little really does help. A lighter pet has a better quality of life.
Even 6% loss of body weight, can do a lot of difference to a dog with arthritis.
Dogs general appearance and activity levels can help us to highlight one of the major reasons for undertaking a weight loss program:
- Consider how much energy your pet have?
- How much they enjoy their walks?
- How fast they run and how quickly out of breath they become?
- How willing are they to play?
- Have they started doing activities they stopped doing or activities they have never done before?
If we consider the different weight loss is making. Then we can be clear of the path we need to take for the pet to achieve their healthy weight.
You have achieved your pets ideal weight. Now what?
Give yourself a big pat on the back!
Weight loss can be difficult. And it is easy to let things slip back to where they were before.
Your furry friend deserves to be healthy and happy in order to avoid future health issues, and it´s our duty as their humans to help them.
Also, if you are willing to take your dog for a bike ride with you, you can check this article.