Last Updated on March 3, 2022 by Dogs Vets
Top 10 Ways to Help Your Dog Lose Weight
You took your dog in for their yearly checkup, only to be informed that your beloved pet is overweight and needs to be put on a diet ASAP.
Helping your dog to stay in shape is an important part of pet care, but don’t feel bad if your dog needs to lose a little weight. It’s very easy for them to put on a couple of extra pounds, especially during the more sedentary winter months.
Follow these 10 tips to help your dog lose weight, from choosing healthy dog treats to exercising them enough:
Talk with your vet about portions.
Every single dog’s caloric needs are different and vary according to their weight, age, breed, activity level, and whether or not they have been spayed or neutered.
Your vet can help you figure out your dog’s Resting Energy Requirement (RER) formula and thus how many calories they should be eating each day for weight loss.
Generally speaking, you should aim for your dog to lose about three to five percent of their body weight.
This might seem like a small number, but losing too much weight too fast is actually really unhealthy for them, so it’s best to spread it out over time.
Measure the food each time.
Eyeballing your dog’s portion sizes makes it way too easy to accidentally overfeed them. Instead, get a dedicated measuring cup that you can use to measure out their dog food so you don’t give them too much.
If you want to get really serious about it, you can use a food scale to measure the food by weight instead of volume.
Choose high quality dog food.
Many cheaper dog foods are full of carbohydrate fillers, which can make up 60 percent or more of the total calories. Instead, look for a dog food that is at least 50 percent protein and also contains a high amount of fiber. This means that your dog will get more nutrients for the same amount of calories, helping them to feel full for longer.
Give them more fruits and vegetables.
Speaking of eating more fiber, consider swapping out some of your dog’s kibble and treats for pet-safe fruits and vegetables.
Dogs absolutely love crunchy foods, and produce is a great way to satisfy that craving in a healthy way.
You may have heard of the green bean diet, which involves replacing some of their kibbles with green beans, but you can totally give them other things, too, such as baby carrots, celery, cucumbers, apples, blueberries, and more.
Reach for healthier treats.
Treats are so small that it’s easier to keep feeding them to your dog — until they eat way too many and blow past their caloric limit for the day.
Remember to always deduct treats from their daily calorie budget to avoid overfeeding them.
To make them stretch farther, reach for healthy dog treats that aren’t packed with mystery meat and filler ingredients. Give your dog long-lasting options, such as collagen chews for dogs, to prolong their enjoyment and make the treat experience more satisfying.
Cut back on table scraps.
If your dog is a beggar, it’s all too easy to feed them scraps at the table or let them lick your dishes after you are done eating.
Unfortunately, human food is often high in calories and rich in fats and sodium, especially the meat, cheeses, and carbs that dogs usually beg for.
Try to keep your food to yourself and don’t get in the habit of treating your dog with scraps every day.
Exercise them regularly.
Most of your dog’s weight loss will come from diet, but exercise is an important component of supporting weight loss and leading an overall healthy lifestyle.
At an absolute minimum, dogs need 20 minutes of activity a day, and many high-energy breeds or young dogs need more than that.
If your dog is significantly overweight, start slow and make sure that you aren’t overexerting them. As your dog gets used to the movement and loses weight, you can ramp up the intensity and length of the physical activity.
Weigh them at least once a month.
In order to confirm that the dietary and exercise changes are working, you will need to weigh your dog at least once a month (and your vet might recommend more frequent check-ins than that). To weigh your dog, first, weigh yourself and then pick them up, step on the scale, and figure out the difference.
If your dog is too large to be picked up, consider investing in a dog-size scale, or see if your local vet clinic will let you stop in for free weigh-ins.
Don’t substitute food for love and attention.
Whenever their dog performs a trick — or just looks extra adorable — many owners’ first instinct is to reward them with a treat or another food item. Same goes for a begging or whining dog who is clamoring for attention.
Instead of giving into the urge to treat them always, give your dog some pets, play with them, or take them for a walk in lieu of food.
In most cases, your dog is bothering you not because they are hungry, but because they want love and affection from you, so don’t confuse the two.
Rule out other medical conditions.
If you’re following all these steps and your dog still isn’t losing weight, then consider taking them to the vet for a full work-up.
Certain conditions, such as hypothyroidism and Cushing’s Syndrome, can contribute to stubborn weight gain. Until you treat the underlying condition, your dog won’t be able to successfully lose weight, so it’s important to rule out other medical conditions if your dog isn’t slimming down as expected.
Sticking to these guidelines will help your dog lose weight, or maintain a healthy weight if they are already at a good place.
For dogs, getting to and staying at a healthy weight means making consistent choices over months or years. It won’t happen overnight, but it will improve your dog’s quality of life over the long run!
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