Tips to prevent canine obesity
6 Tips to Prevent Canine Obesity (and Tips to Help Dogs Lose Weight)
You may think that your fat pup looks cute, after all, we all do love our fur-babies irrespective of their breed, size, or age but little do we know how dangerous can those few extra pounds be. Canine obesity is prevalent in the U.S. with the statistics revealing that 56% of dogs in the U.S are classified as obese. The numbers are alarming mainly because the effects of obesity can be detrimental for our dogs’ health, lowering their quality of life.
Just like humans, excessive body fat in our dogs can lead to diseases such as diabetes, high cholesterol, joint diseases such as arthritis, hypertension, breathing issues and even heart failure. Studies reveal that dogs with an ideal weight may have an increase in life expectancy of about ten months. Since obesity can have such dangerous impacts, it’s essential to keep track of our dog’s weight and cut off the extra pounds to ensure a happy and healthy life for our canine companions. If you are a worried dog-parent, here are six tips that can help treat as well as prevent obesity in dogs:
Measure Your Dog’s Food Intake and Calories
The primary reason behind obesity is based on simple mathematics; all living beings need to burn the number of calories they eat every day to avoid weight gain. When our dogs eat high-calorie foods rich in carbs and fat without expending sufficient energy, they begin to put on extra pounds. It is also essential to understand what we can and can’t feed our dogs. Many foods and various brands of commercially-available kibbles have a high proportion of unhealthy fat and calories which means these need to be avoided. Some of the packaged dog foods have the feeding amounts mentioned on the pack, but these may be overestimated, so it’s best to consult your vet regarding appropriate feeding instructions. Make sure you have a standard measuring cup for precise portioning. Purchase high-quality kibble that doesn’t contain fillers and has high nutritional content.
Exercise Your Dog
Just like we need to hit the gym to shed the extra pounds and prevent ourselves from putting them back on our canines also require a higher amount of activity to melt the excess fat. Work on gradually increasing your dog’s level of physical exertion, for instance, extend the duration of your regular walk and increase the pace. You can also try out different indoor games or consider building an agility course in the backyard.
Make Changes to Your Dog’s Diet
There are a lot of minor nutrition mistakes that many dog-parents ten to make without even realizing that we may be doing something wrong such as feeding table scraps or not measuring the caloric intake. There are conflicting viewpoints as far as the choice of free feeding, or mealtime feeding is concerned. Both the methods have their respective pros and cons, so it is up to you what you opt for. As for free feeding, it can be successful if you make your pups develop the habit from an early age but do monitor his regular intake to ensure he isn’t eating too much or too less than the daily amount. Replace fats with healthier alternatives such as baby carrots, green beans, celery, cucumber, etc. Grain free dog foods are the popular choice these days; however, these may cause problems of their own. A few studies indicate that grain free or boutique dog food and nutritional deficiencies may lead to DCM (Dilated cardiomyopathy) which can result in heart failure. The rate of DCM has increased in dogs particularly the retrievers and some atypical dog breeds, and taurine deficiency can be one of the contributing factors, so its best to look for a brand that has taurine additives.
No Table Scraps
They say sharing is caring, well, not in the case of us sharing our food with our fur-babies. Some dogs develop the annoying habit of asking for food from the dinner table, and most dog-parents do end up giving into those “puppy dog eyes” without realizing the havoc it may wreak on our dog’s digestive system. Many human foods can be toxic to our dogs, and others contain a high amount of calories which will be an unnecessary addition to your pup’s diet so next time your pooch requests to taste the delicious chicken pot pie, firmly say NO to him and change the habit.
Cut on the Treats
Treating our pups is an effective way that most of us rely on while training or handling doggy tantrums. Treats aren’t harmful; it’s the type and amount that makes all the difference. First of all, it is essential to keep a balance between treats and your dog’s regular meals. For instance, if you have given your dog, plenty of treats cut down on his food intake. As for the choice of treats, instead of choosing the unhealthy sugar-loaded goodies select single-ingredient treats. You can prepare many delicious goodies at home as well for your weight conscious canine.
Measure Your Dog’s Weight
You are not only supposed to work on your dog’s weight loss program but also monitor the progress to ensure that things are on track. Ideally, your pup should lose 1lb every month if you follow the right weight loss regime. Make sure you monitor your dog’s weight and check with your vet every month regarding your dog’s progress.
Jenny Perkins is an Animal Behavior Specialist and a passionate writer. She loves to write about the nutrition, health, and care of dogs. She aims at providing tips to dog owners that can help them become better pet parents. She writes for the blog HerePup.