A Weight Loss Program for Dogs
Helping your dog to lose weight healthily!
Dogs, like their masters, will gain weight if they eat consume more energy than their body requires. While most dogs don’t get after dinner desserts, they can gain weight by eating table scraps. Although they love the human food we give them, it isn’t always good for them. Dogs need food that is nutritionally balanced for them. Overweight dogs are prone to arthritis, circulatory problems, pancreatic disorders, liver disease and more.
Before your pet dog begins any weight loss program, you should first consult your veterinarian. Certain medical conditions can cause obesity, and only your Vet can determine this. He/she will help you establish a specific program for your dog to lose weight in a natural manner. You can also consult with a certified veterinary nutritionist. Your Vet will set up a realistic weight loss program, usually a loss of 1-2% of the body weight per week. Rapid weight loss is not recommended because the weight, as many human dieters will tell you, usually comes back after the weight reduction diet is stopped.
Essential Components for Successful Pet Dog Weight Loss
Food intake and exercise are key parts of any weight loss program. If your Vet does not recommend a change in diet, you should continue feeding your dog his/her regular food, but in smaller proportions. Begin by reducing the amount of food by 20-40%. You can control the dog’s appetite by feeding him/her 2-4 small meals throughout the day. Make sure that everyone in the household upholds your dog’s diet. No table snacks! Avoid extra treats. If you have more than one dog, don’t allow the bigger overweight dog to eat their food.
If your Vet wants to change your dog’s diet, there are a number of companies that make low-calorie weight loss formula dog foods, including Purina, Pedigree and Eukanuba. Canidae Brand is made with glucosamine and chondroitin for better joint health and psyllium to aid in digestion. These brands and others have developed formulas that provide balanced nutrition for safe, effective weight loss. The dog foods contain low fat, reduced calories, high fiber content and a high ratio of protein to calories. Why does this work? A low fat diet helps to control a dog’s calorie intake. Fiber helps the dog feel full. The weight loss diet provides a dog with the nutrition he needs to reduce stress and maintain healthy bodily functions while your dog reduces the excess weight.
Tricking Your Dog into Eating New, Low-Fat Meals
Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? Some of you are no doubt saying “that won’t work with my dog. He’s fussy and won’t switch brands.” It’s true. Some dogs simply turn their nose up at new food and walk away. You can, however, make the switch to a new food over four days. Begin with 75% of his old food and blend in 25% new food on day 1. On day 2, mix equal parts of old and new food. Mix 25% old with 75% new food on day 3. On day 4, give your dog 100% new food. You may have to come up with your own ratios of old to new for your dog, but the change will eventually be successful.
More Activity – It’s natural for Dogs to be active!
Dogs gain weight when they don’t exercise as much as they should. Dogs, like their human masters, require regular exercise to stay healthy. Exercise can improve bone and joint health and heart and lung function. Exercise programs should be tailored to the dog’s current state of health. Don’t overdo. Start slow and work up to higher activity levels. While walking for 20-60 minutes a day, five days a week is a reasonable goal, you have to modify this if your dog becomes tired or pants too hard while walking. Experts are divided on swimming as a dog exercise. Consult your Vet before putting your dog into the water. The same is true for using a treadmill for the dog to exercise on.
Exercising your dog does not mean running a marathon or walking endless miles.
Exercise is getting your dog moving and burning calories. Most dogs enjoy fetching objects and chasing things. Take the dog to an area where he/she can run and have it chase after a small ball or its favorite toys. Don’t throw heavy objects or sticks as these can harm a dog’s neck, teeth or puncture his throat. Avoid throwing Frisbees and other flying disks at a high level. Keep your throws low so that your dog will not jump high and risk leg, knee and foot injuries. Pay attention to the temperature! Do not take your dog out when the temperature is more than 85 degrees. He may suffer heat exhaustion and heat stroke, both of which can be fatal.
If your dog does not respond well to a reduced calorie diet or exercise, you might consult your Vet about weight loss supplements. Cosequin is a nutritional supplement designed to help dogs maintain healthy joints by slowing down the enzymes that break down cartilage. Nutramax Laboratories has developed Denosyl® SD4 to maintain healthy liver function in dogs. Dehydroepiandrosterone helps dogs lose weight faster and lowers cholesterol levels. Carnitine affects the utilization of fat by the dog’s body. Pyruvate alters the metabolism. Chromium picolinate promotes the activity of insulin. Coenzyme Q10 is essential for energy production at the cellular level.
Exercise and a reduction of calories are the two tried and true components of a canine weight loss program. They also play a key role in human weight loss. Treat your dog and yourself to daily walks. You’ll both lose weight, be healthier and happier.
Davis, Kathy Diamond. 2007. Exercise. Why do Dogs Need It? Canine Behaviour Series. Veterinary Partner. Com.
Dogster. No date. Losing Holiday Pounds. Dogster.Com.
Frisby, Holly. 2007. Weight Reduction Programs. Animal Planet Dog Health Center.
Nash, Holly. 2007. Weight Reduction Programs for Overweight and Obese Dogs. Pet Education.com.
Nutramax Laboratories, Inc. 2006. Cosequin FAQ.