by Dr. Chris Roth, DVM
Many pet owners struggle with figuring out how to help their obese dogs lose weight. Animals often have food cravings that can be hard to say no to, especially since you want to keep your dog happy. Over time, however, obesity in dogs can increase their risks for developing diabetes, as well as respiratory and arthritic conditions. Sadly, these are often chronic, incurable diseases that generally are preventative. It’s worth noting that there are some underlying endocrine disorders, such as hypothyroidism that can contribute to weight gain in dogs.
The good news is if you’re asking yourself how to go about helping your dog, you’re on the right track to tackle the problem. In this article, we’ll explore the most effective approaches to help a dog lose weight and provide you with all the knowledge you need to get your canine healthy and active in no time.
Reduce Portions and Calorie Intake
As you might have guessed, figuring out how to get your dog to lose weight is similar to how you would approach human weight loss. In the end, a lot of the aspects that go into a dog losing weight comes down to their food intake. Controlling and reducing the number of calories your dog consumes can help them start losing pounds at a healthy and regular pace. Feeding as little as 10 extra pieces of kibble per day can add one pound of weight in a year to a small dog that weighs 10 pounds.
Try using a measuring cup at mealtimes. You can keep feeding your dog at regular intervals, but by measuring and reducing the amount of food that you provide, you can help your dog lose weight without needing to take drastic measures. You can figure out how many daily calories your dog should consume by consulting with a vet near you or using an online dog calorie calculator.
Reduce Unhealthy Treats
We all love seeing our dog’s faces light up when we offer them a treat. Unfortunately, many dog owners end up being too liberal with giving out treats. This ends up becoming the junk-food equivalent for dogs, causing weight gain over time. So, if you’re trying to figure out how to help a dog lose weight, a good starting point would be simply reducing the number of treats that you give out.
Feeding Healthier Treats
While you should reduce the number of unhealthy dog treats you are giving your dog, this doesn’t mean you should eliminate treats entirely. If you replace regular treats with healthy options such as carrots, celery, green beans or switching to low calorie dog treats, you may find your dog is not only just as happy but also much more responsive to losing weight. Many dog owners feel that feeding their dog table scraps is harmless, but human food is often packed with spices, salt, or fat which can cause stomach distress in pets and lead to serious health problems.
Give Protein-Rich Food
Although dogs are omnivores, they’re not designed to live on a high-carbohydrate diet. Therefore, giving your dog too many carbs can cause them to gain weight. A crucial dog weight loss concept to follow is switching to a protein-rich dog diet, which helps build lean muscle instead of forcing the body to convert carbs into fat.
Owners that ask, “How can I help my dog lose weight?” don’t take into account the activity needs of their canine friend. The truth is, some dog breeds are extremely active by nature and thus require dedication by their owners to take them out for lengthy walks. If you have an active dog, it may be that you’re not providing him with enough physical stimulation. The quickest answer to your needs might be to take more time every day to exercise together. Increasing physical activity can be the quickest treatment for obesity in your dog This in turn can help both of you lose or maintain a healthy weight.
Weight-loss Through Play
Dogs are incredibly playful animals, so you should use this to your advantage when figuring out how to get a dog to lose weight. For instance, if your dog is a hunting breed, fetch games work well, especially in the water. For scent-tracking dogs, you could try using puzzle toys that stimulate their senses, and for terriers, tugging games usually produce great enthusiasm. No matter which games work best, what matters most when finding out how to help a dog lose weight is that you’re both having fun. If your dog is engaged and energetic in the activity chances are you will achieve your objective.
When trying to figure out how to help your dog lose weight, there are many available options. Did you know that every Pets Best policy includes access to a 24/7 Pet Helpline to help answer your pet weight loss questions? If you don’t currently have the peace of mind that dog insurance provides, check out our plans. We offer your furry companions the best care for unexpected accidents and illnesses.
by Dr. Chris Roth, DVM