Obesity is a common condition in dogs and its prevention and control remain a daunting task for many pet parents who want to keep their pooches happy with that extra bite and treats. Obese dogs are more at risk of incurable chronic diseases like respiratory difficulties, arthritis, and diabetes, all of which can be prevented. Hence, the need to prevent and manage obesity in dogs. Weight loss programs can’t be rushed, it is rather based on strategies put in place to develop a consistent habit.
Simple Guidelines to Help your Obese Dog Lose Weight
- Reduce food portion and break up meals: An extra 5 pieces of kibble per meal can cause a significant weight gain over a while. There is no successful weight gain program without a reduction in food intake. This does not mean starving your dog, but rather, strictly feeding the required and recommended meal per day with no extras. Furthermore, feeding small meals (e.g. dividing your dog’s daily ration into 4-6 portions) at about 3-4 hours intervals helps to burn calories through digestion and reduces appetite spikes keeping your dog full throughout the day.
- Feed protein-rich diet and reduce calorie intake: Dogs are not meant to live on high carbohydrate diet. Foods high in Carbs cause fat accumulation which results in obesity. However, a protein-rich diet builds lean muscle, reduces fat accumulation with a resulting decrease in weight.
- Reduce Unhealthy treats: Feeding unhealthy treats is like giving them junk that increases their weight. As much as you love the excitement and happiness that comes with giving your dog a treat, high calories treat can be a counterproductive effort in a weight loss program. Instead, a healthy and low calories treat should be used.
- Increase exercise safely: No weight loss program is complete without exercise. The simplest form of exercising is walking your dog. The amount of walk needed by a dog depends on the breed and age, and health status of the dog but every dog must walk and exercise regularly to lose weight. In addition to walking, you can engage your dogs in fun-filled activities that make them exert energy and burn fats. An example is playing the “fetch” game.
There are other causes of weight gain in dogs other than obesity. Some disease conditions like Cushing’s syndrome and hypothyroidism can present with weight gain. Thus, it is important to classify your dog’s weight gain before embarking on a weight loss program. You should also discuss with your veterinarian, especially the choice of food and exercise that will be safe for your dog’s health status.