Dogs can suffer from the same diseases as humans. And that includes obesity as well. Same as with humans, obesity is usually a problem in older dogs. They have a harder time keeping up their weight at bay since they are not as active.
You also have to consider health risks and complications in obese dogs, like pancreatitis, diabetes, heart issues, disc disease, hip dysplasia, and other forms of joint disease. With that in mind, how to help your dog lose weight?
Is your dog overweight?
According to some statistics, one in four dogs in America is overweight or obese. Is there a way to know if your dog is obese?
There are three ways to check if your dog is overweight.
- The Bird’s eye view – Stand over your dog, and check for narrowing at the waist, or the area between the abdomen and the hips. Same as humans, dogs should resemble an hourglass shape. If your dog is shaped like an oval, he/she packs some extra weight
- Feel the Ribs – Your dog’s ribs should not be visible (sign of lack of nutrition), but they should be easily felt. Run your hands along each side of your dog, but do not apply any pressure. If you can easily feel and count the ribs, your dog is fine. If not, your dog is gaining weight
- Take a walk – This is a simple test you can do for your walking exercises. Dogs who pant heavily during or after a walk are showing signs of extra weight
You can also check with your veterinarian to see if your dog is obese. Remember, every dog is obese. So your 10 pounds dog might not be the same as a 15 pounds dog of the same breed.
There are many factors that play a role. But generally speaking, if you visit your vet on a regular basis, you can measure your dog and compare with previous weight.
Your vet can also measure your dog’s percentage of body fat, and check the historical data to see if your dog is gaining weight in a normal way, or in an obese day.
With that in mind, here are some ways you can help your dog lose weight.
Weight Loss Tips for Dogs
Changes in diet
Quick question: what is the best weight loss plan for humans? More protein and fewer carbs, right? Well, the same applies to dogs as well.
If you want to help your dog lose weight, the ratio of carbs to fats and protein matters more than calories. Feed your dog a high-protein diet, which will build lean muscle, and will help them burn off the extra pounds.
The ideal weight loss diet for dogs is high in protein, moderate in fat, and low in carbs.
Avoid high-fiber foods
Fiber, or the indigestible part of the carbs, will interfere with your dog’s nutrient absorption. Grains are a common source of fiber, so you should try and avoid foods that are high in grains.
The ideal solution would be a grain-free food.
The right fat
Same as in humans, our body needs fats, but the good kind of fats. Omega-3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA promote weight loss.
Just be careful, measure the amount of fats you are giving to your dog since fats can be high in calories.
One of the best ways to help your dog lose weight is making his own food. If you opt for a homemade and raw diet, use lean meats, low-fat dairy, and green vegetables instead of starches and grains.
You should also pay attention to fats. That means removing separable fat from meats and removing the skin from poultry. Avoid high calories and fatty meats like pork, high-fat beef, or lamb. You can always cook the food to remove most of the fat.
You can also add eggs, some fruits, herbs, and other foods that are acceptable for dogs. One mistake a lot of people make is replacing most of the dog’s food with green beans or other non-starchy vegetables.
While they are low in calories, they are also low in protein, which can cause protein deficiency in your dog.
What about vegetables?
Speaking of vegetables, there are many so-called “vital veggies” that can help replace grains and starches in your dog’s diet.
Those include baby carrots, celery, broccoli, cucumbers, sliced apples, green beans, and bananas.
They are naturally nutritious, and tasty for your dog. Just remember, do not feed your dog with a whole apple or banana, as they are high in sugars.
Rethink your treats strategy
Treats are an important part of your dog’s life and diet. But if you are going to give your pet some extra goodies, you have to rethink the strategy to help him lose weight.
For starters, go for low-calorie and no-sugar treats that are actually healthy.
Also important, dogs actually care more about the number of treats they receive, not the size. So, a good strategy is to give several smaller treats than one big one. You can cut slices of meat, veggies, or anything else for treating.
Another good strategy is to feed your dog with treats during the day, as part of his dinner meal. Just be sure to reduce his dinner meal accordingly.
Healthy treats include baby carrots, zucchini slices, small slices of melon, or small low-fat organ meats.
Reduce portion size
If you cut your dog’s dinner, lunch, or any other meal altogether, he will notice. But if you reduce the size, your dog might not notice.
Do not make drastic changes all at once. Instead, reduce the portion size by five to ten percent. Keep gradually reducing the amount of food your dog eats, until he begins to lose weight. At that point, continue feeding the amount required for losing weight.
This strategy works by reducing portion size every two weeks and measuring your dog in the meantime.
Make it a family project
Taking care of your dog is a family project. If you try to help your dog lose weight, every member of the family has to join in. You cannot be the bad cop, and then somebody feeds your puppy breakfast leftovers or afternoon snacks.
Give each family member a specific number of treats to work through the day. Tell family members to focus on games, walks, and other activities.
Edible chew toys
Dogs love to chew. It helps keep them busy and reduce any anxiety disorder risks. Try to find a low-fat and long-lasting chew edible toy to keep your dog busy. These include dried tendons and steer sticks.
Focus on exercise
We know that diet and exercise go hand in hand. The same applies to your canine friend as well. An important factor: keep regular activities and exercises fun. You can use different tactics to make an increase in activity levels.
For example, take long walks. Your dog will enjoy spending time with you. Just remember, when you are on a walk, you have to pay attention to your dog.
Do not ignore him. Another way is to add extra playtime and extra games like fetch, treadmills, swimming, using extra toys for games and more.