• by Janette Moon

Helping Your Dog Lose Weight Safely

An estimated 56% of dogs in the U.S. are obese. While many pet owners wish to pamper their pets, it is important to keep them in tip-top condition. Extra pounds in dogs are as harmful as they are in humans since they increase the risk of skin, orthopedic, and respiratory issues. The good news is that you can help your dog achieve his target weight in next to no time, whenever you do so patiently and following a few easy guidelines.

A visit to the vet is key

Next time you are visiting your vet, discuss the issue of overweight. Your vet should ideally let you know if your dog needs to lose a few pounds while ruling out other possible causes such as diabetes, hyperthyroidism, or Cushing’s Disease. Your vet is also the ideal person to recommend a weight loss diet that is suitable for your dog’s age and condition and to indicate an appropriate exercise regime that takes into account his age and physical condition. Dogs with heart disease, for instance, will need a shorter or less intense exercise regime than one in peak condition.

Envisioning the pooch you want Fido to be

If you feed dry or wet food, the package will recommend portions depending on your dog’s weight. However, if your dog is overweight, serve the portion that corresponds to the weight your dog should be. Doing so will enable you to cut back on his caloric intake without feeding him too little. If you normally feed him treats, you can continue to do so, whenever you factor in the caloric values of any extras. These can include fruits, veggies, and other foods you add to his bowl. If you prepare meals from scratch, then calorie counting and weighing food will be key. Your vet should be able to give you total daily caloric values for your pooch.

Opting for quality

As is the case in the human diet, quality food is a key component of a weight loss program for dogs. Many store-bought foods can contain ingredients such as flavor enhancers, dyes, or preservatives, as well as poor quality sources of protein such as hooves, feathers, or beaks. Good quality protein will help your dog build muscle, which burns more calories than fat, and is a crucial part of any weight loss regime.

Movement is life

Your dog should enjoy at one long walk a day (ideally two). Take him somewhere he can romp around off leash and bring toys that will encourage him to run and jump. Think a frisbee, ball, or stick. Treks are an ideal type of exercise because they will challenge him to negotiate different terrains, uphills, downhills, wind resistance, etc.

Keeping your dog lean and trim is largely a matter of setting a good example. If you are active and you tend to spend time in nature, your dog will benefit greatly. The science to weight loss is simple in dogs; portion control, discipline when it comes to feeding off schedule, and daily exercise, will not only help your dog lose weight but also ensure he has a longer, happier life.

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