Has your dog put on a few extra pounds? In order to keep your dog healthy, it’s important that they maintain a healthy weight. Here are 7 ways to help your dog to lose weight this year.
What Is Your Dog’s Ideal Weight?
Before deciding that your dog needs to lose weight, have you considered what their ideal weight goal should be? When dogs come in so many different shapes and sizes, it’s impossible for any article or website to tell you how much your dog should weigh. Even dogs of the same litter could have different ideal weights.
Some things that can affect your dog’s ideal weight include:
● Spayed or Neutered
It is difficult to know exactly what weight your dog should be at, but there are helpful guides to give you a better idea. Most guides make no mention of what a dog should weigh, but rather will describe how a dog should look.
For a dog to be within their ideal weight, you should be able to feel their ribs with minimal excess fat, you should be able to see their waist when viewed from above and their abdomen should tuck upward when viewed from the side.
This describes the ideal weight. If their abdomen doesn’t tuck upward, if you can’t see their waist or if you can’t feel their ribs, your dog is likely overweight. On the other side, your dog is probably underweight if their ribs or hips stick out. Using your own sight and touch are the best ways to know if your dog is within an ideal weight range. If you are unsure about your dog’s weight, ask your vet to evaluate your dog with you. They will be able to give you a good understanding of what to look for when evaluating your dog.
7 Tips to Help Your Dog Lose Weight This Year
Anyone who’s tried to cut their own weight would know it’s all about diet and exercise. Any weight loss regime is going to include both restricting calories and increasing the amount of exercise you get.
You can help your dog lose weight by following these tips.
1. Grab Your Kitchen Scale
Many people use a coffee cup or some other means of measuring their dog’s food. This is ok, but it’s an imprecise way to measure food. This is especially the case if you are not using a completely full cup. If you are eye measuring half or three fourths a cup at a time, you’re probably going to make mistakes.
If you are trying to cut down your dog’s calories, you need a precise way to measure their food. The best way to measure is with a kitchen scale. This gives you an exact amount that you can easily replicate every single day. Also, it’s much easier to get the weight right rather than checking if you filled their kibble to the correct line on a cup.
If you’re cutting calories, you should first figure out exactly how much food your dog has been getting in the first place. Try measuring out their food like you’re used to and put it on your scale. Do this a few times so you can find a good average weight that you have been feeding your dog.
Once you know how much food you’ve been giving your dog, you can start reducing that number. A good rule of thumb is to reduce your dog’s quantity of food by no more than 10 percent at first. If you are not seeing their weight drop after a few weeks, you can start reducing the amount of food you give them by 5 percent every two weeks. If you’ve not seen weight loss after 6 weeks, it’s time to consider other options.
2. Split Meals
When your dog is eating less food, they are going to be hungrier. Because they are going to be hungrier for parts of the day, many veterinarians recommend splitting their meals into smaller portions. If you used to feed your dog each morning and evening, consider taking the total amount of food you would feed them in a day and splitting it into three or four meals.
By giving them food more often, you can help make them feel more satiated even though you are feeding them less food overall. Having a small meal available every few hours can also help regulate your dog’s insulin levels and can eventually help your dog not feel as hungry when they are not eating.
3. Don’t Forget Treats
One thing many dog owners forget is that treats have calories too. If you give your dog a treat every time they go potty, you’re probably overfeeding them. Most dogs love their treats, so it’s hard to not give them as many. Feeding them fewer treats is for their own good though.
Treats are a great motivation tool for dogs. If you need to reduce the number of treats you’re giving your dog, you need to think of alternative motivators as well. If your dog will eat them, carrots, cucumbers, or apples all make delicious treats.
Something else to remember when giving treats is that the size of the treat isn’t important. When you reward your dog for a job well done, they get the same feeling whether you give them a large treat or just a piece of a treat. Another way to cut down on your dog’s calories while still rewarding them is simply to break their treats into smaller pieces.
4. What’s the Best Food?
One aspect that many dog owners don’t look into is the makeup of their dog’s food. If all dog food comes shaped the same way and in a big bag, it’s probably all the same, right?
This is absolutely not the case though when it comes to dog food. Many times, cheaper food leans more heavily on cheap carbohydrates. This allows the food producer to reduce the cost of the food, but carb-heavy food isn’t good for your dog. This is not to say that your dog can’t eat carbohydrates though. Cheaper foods usually use barley or rice to help keep your dog full. If you don’t mind feeding your dog carbs, try simply getting healthier carbs. Many food producers have switched over to using sweet potato or brown rice. These ingredients are just fillers, but they are going to be much healthier for your dog than most other processed carbohydrates.
If you don’t like the idea of feeding your dog processed carbohydrates, you can try to find grain-free food. These foods rely heavily on animal protein and bone meal. These grain-free foods are closer to what a dog would have eaten hundreds of years ago and can sometimes be better for your dog.
Just remember that if you are switching your dog’s food, you are adding another variable to their weight maintenance. If you can find the information, try comparing the caloric density of your current food to the caloric density of the new food. You can use these amounts to figure out how much you should be feeding your dog. And remember to transition your dog to a new food by slowly adding some to their existing food. You want to gradually increase the amount of new food until your dog is used to it.
5. Reward Your Dog with Play
No weight loss plan will be successful without burning calories too. You can decrease the amount of food you give your dog, but you should be making them work harder too. If you don’t take your dog on a daily walk, you should consider doing so. A daily walk is a great way to get your dog both physical and mental stimulation. Some dogs will need more than just a simple walk while others will need less. It’s still important to get your dog moving for their mental health.
Remember to introduce new activity slowly at first. Anything that is new or difficult has the potential to harm your dog. Repetitive tasks or extra vigorous activities should be taken very slowly to make sure your dog isn’t hurt while exercising.
Another way to help your dog lose some weight is to play with them more. When your dog does something you asked them to do, rather than reach for a treat you should reach for a toy, spend a few minutes playing with them. Even just a few extra laps down the hallway every few hours can all add up to a lot of burned calories throughout the day.
6. Make Your Dog Work for Everyday Items
Another way to help your dog shed some pounds is to make them work for everyday items. Before you feed them, make sure they perform a task or two for you. Have them sit and give you their paw. Do the same before you let them out into the back yard. Find any moment you can throughout the day to have them perform.
Again, this is not going to fix your dog’s weight overnight, every extra step they take is going to eventually add up to weight loss.
7. Medical Concerns
If you are not seeing results after decreasing your dog’s calories and increasing their exercise, it might be time to look into reasons why your dog is not able to maintain a healthy weight. If it’s been weeks with no change, you should take your dog in to see your vet. They are going to be able to rule out if your dog should stay the course or if your dog has a medical condition that could be affecting their weight.
Remember that getting healthy is not a sprint but a marathon. You can’t find shortcuts to better health. Reducing your dog’s calorie intake and increasing their exercise is the only way that is going to help them maintain a healthy weight.