Dogs just like people can become overweight far more easily than you think. More than 55% of dogs are overweight. This all comes down to too much food and too little exercise.
How do I know if my dog is overweight?
There are a few ways you can check if your dog is overweight. Take them to the veterinarian and get them weighed. Your veterinarian will know what the standard weight for your type of dog is to know if they are overweight or not. Another way is you can feel their spine and ribs, if they are hard to feel that could be an indication. Sagging stomach from the side can also be an indication. If your dog is having low energy or low desire to play it could be because they are overweight and it is a lot of work to tote around the extra pounds.
Underlying conditions such as a thyroid disease or a tumor can cause weight gain. Your dog being overweight can put your dog at risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, increased joint injuries, high blood pressure, and cancer.
The first thing you need to do is check with the veterinarian. They will have some information that can be beneficial to you when putting your dog on a diet to help lose the extra weight. Dog weight loss is very much like people weight loss. Decrease the calories and increase the exercise.
Food & Calories
First look at the food you are giving your dog. Not just how much but quality too. Low quality foods can be high in calories and have no beneficial substance for your dog. If you are feeding your dog high energy dog food for an active dog, but your dog is not active at all, this type of food may have more calories than your dog needs as well.
Set meal times. Having your dog eat 2-3 times a day can be better.
Also don’t leave dog bowls out or use an automatic feeder. Leaving food in your dog’s bowl can cause them to overeat because some dogs can’t regulate when they are full. This can cause them to eat until the bowl is empty whether they are hungry or not. A good quality food should have some fiber in it, this will help your dog feel fuller for longer as well as help their digestion stay normal.
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Another no brainer when trying to help your dog lose some extra pounds is to cut back on the processed treats. This even means treats like peanut butter, and cheese. If your dog is getting those every day it can definitely add on some extra pounds. Switch to healthy treats. Healthy treats could be plain grilled chicken, salmon, or berries. You don’t have to buy store bought dog treats to give your dog a healthy snack of something.
You can also add in some fresh fruits and vegetables into their diet as well. Green beans can be fed to your dog as one of their meals. This is a low calorie food that will make them feel fuller for longer. Other options are carrots, broccoli, spinach, peas, cucumbers, berries, apples, and rice cakes. The vegetables can be steamed before you give them to your dog.
Keep your dog out of the kitchen when you are eating. This will stop them from being underfoot when you are cooking and eating. This eliminates them from trying to lick up every crumb that falls onto the floor. Or trying to snatch food off the table and counters. Even a few scraps off the floor can add additional pounds.
Increase their exercise. On average dogs need 20 minutes two times a day of intentional exercise. This does not include their time running free in your yard. Exercise for dogs is a walk around the neighborhood, a run, running next to you while you bike or rollerblade. Intentional means you are making an effort to exercise. Free play does not count into this. If your dog is already getting these two 20 minute exercise times, then they may need more than that. You may need to add an extra 5 or 10 minutes onto their walks.
Taking your dog to a park and hiking is another way to get them exercise. Some dogs that are in the “work dog” category may benefit from having a little backpack put on them during their walks so they feel like they are doing a job. If you live in an area that is too cold to take your dogs out daily for walks, set them up to walk on a treadmill.
Dogs losing weight is just like people, diet and exercise. Both are key to losing weight and getting your dog healthy again. Overweight dogs are at a higher risk for other diseases and conditions. Overweight dogs’ lifespans tend to be less than dogs of the same breed who are at a healthy weight.