In 2016, a record 56% of dogs in the U.S. were clinically overweight or obese. Largely, dog obesity stems from their owners. Many owners are prone to overindulging their pets, which in turn creates a cycle where the dog expects more treats.
Much like personalized dog training therapy, the key to canine weight loss is developing a plan that suits your pet’s individual needs. To cut down on calorie intake, develop a monitored dietary regimen for your dog that follows expert advice… and stick to it!
It’s actually more convenient to track your dog’s caloric intake than your own! It’s relatively easy to monitor how often, how much, and what type of calories your dog is being fed.
To develop an appropriate dietary plan, the first step is to find your dog’s ideal body weight and develop a weight loss strategy to meet that number. This can be achieved through consultation with your local vet, but the generally-recommended approach is to cut your dog’s calories by one-third.
That number includes doggie treats, which you can still feed to your dog, because who doesn’t deserve a nice reward? Aim to cut your dog’s body weight by about 1% per week (or 3-4% a month) for safe weight loss. In order for you to assess the regimen, you must weigh your dog regularly, ideally at the same time each week, to track his/her weight.
The Role of Dog Exercise
Managing calorie intake is the most important aspect of canine weight loss, but exercise is still important for your pet’s overall health. Plus, your dog’s digestive system certainly impacts his/her body weight.
To jumpstart everyday fitness for an inactive dog, the American Animal Hospital recommends that dogs be walked three times a day for five minutes. More active dogs should have about an hour of play time per day, preferably in the late afternoon or evening, when it’s cooler outside. Swimming is a good option for doggy exercise, although dogs unaccustomed to swimming should begin with a life vest.
Choosing the Right Dog Food for Weight Loss
When selecting food for your pet’s dietary regimen, look for dog food stocked in essential proteins, vitamins, and amino acids. It’s also important to give your dog lots of water, especially with meals and during exercise, to help them digest food properly.
Portion out your dog’s diet carefully and monitor how much he/she eats. For a dietary plan to work, everyone in the family and/or relevant dog sitters need to be on the same page. If one of you fails to go by the plan, the dog will continue to expect more treats and fail to adjust to the new regimen.
Like their human owners, dogs lose weight with the right combination of calorie reduction and exercise. And like small children, dogs love routine, even if they don’t appreciate the cut in food intake. Your dog will be best trained to eat less through reliable methods of routine and practice, even when it’s hard to face their puppy eyes. Ultimately, it’s up to you to make a plan and stick to it.