How to help my dog lose weight is a daunting question for every pet parent struggling with obesity in dogs. We feed our dogs, thinking it’s a way of showing love. But eventually, we only end up making our dogs overweight or obese. Most pet parents need to follow a diet plan for pets. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (2022), about 59% of dogs are found to be obese in the U.S., leading to many other health problems. What do we fail to understand here? Just two or three extra pounds will make a huge difference negatively.
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What is obesity in dogs?
Obesity in dogs is the accumulation of excess body fat leading to weight gain. Based on body weight, a dog is considered overweight if they weigh 10-20% above their ideal weight. Obesity shortens a dog’s lifespan and increases the likelihood of disease. It was always thought that heavy dogs had a shorter lifespan than lean dogs, usually 6 to 12 months. However, a large lifetime study of Labrador Retrievers found that even moderately obese dogs can suffer shortened life expectancy by nearly two years compared to dogs with average weight.
Common causes for obesity in dogs
Lack of exercise
A dog needs to exercise daily. With no or less exercise and playtime, a dog is prone to weight gain leading to obesity. Depending on the dog’s agility, an everyday walk of 2-3 hours combined with playtime will be ideal.
Dogs may also suffer from certain health conditions that will cause weight gain. Diabetes, arthritis, Cushing’s disease, and hypothyroidism trigger the dog’s thyroid leading to weight gain.
Overfeeding is one of the prime causes of obesity in dogs. Always follow measurements while feeding your dog to avoid gaining weight.
Too many treats are another common cause of weight gain. Most treats are packed with calories and fat. Hence, feed your dog low-calorie treats occasionally.
How to say a dog is obese?
Every pet parent’s first step in handling an obese dog is identifying the issue. Unfortunately, the internet and print media is flooded with images of overweight dogs, making it difficult to understand what normal is like. A veterinarian can help with the evaluation. Measuring rib coverage is important in determining if your dog is overweight and can be easily done at home. With your palm facing down and the palm of your other hand touching your knuckles, you can feel how the ribs just behind the dog’s shoulder blades feel.
Other signs to look out for Obesity
- One of the common signs is when you cannot feel the ribs. However, you should be able to feel the ribs while running the hand over their middle.
- Another vital sign is panting. When a dog starts panting after walking a few blocks, it’s time for a strict exercise routine.
- The dogs’ bodies are defined in a certain way, with a deep rib cage inclined to the waist at the hips. Your dog is overweight when the waist is larger than the back hock joint.
What is required for the dog to lose weight?
Replace high-fat, high-calorie treats with dog-safe vegetables such as raw carrots and broccoli, or keep low-calorie dog treats on hand. That way, every treat you give your puppy is packed with nutrients, not wasted calories.
Mixing Veggies and Kibble
If your puppy still looks hungry after eating, mix veggies with the kibble in their bowl. It helps the dog from getting fiber content with no extra calories. Also, most dogs prefer the crunchy texture and slightly sweet taste.
Advise family members not to sneak a treat
Your whole family needs to help your dog lose weight so you don’t slip excess food on him. Even small snacks can contain significant calories. Don’t let a family member or roommate who thinks food is love sabotage your efforts. Let others know you do this for your dog’s long-term health and happiness.
Track progress regularly
Besides assessing your dog’s health condition, remember to do monthly weigh-ins at your veterinarian’s clinic. Most vets will allow your dog in for free weight checks, which can encourage the pet parents. Hence never hesitate to keep track of your dog’s weight.
Step-by-step guide for dogs to lose weight
- Feed your dog the right amount of food every day. Most dog food bags come with feeding guidelines. If your dog is gaining weight despite feeding the recommended amount, reducing the amount of food by 10-15% can help your dog lose a few pounds.
- Avoid feeding treats as they may add calories and increase your dog’s overall weight.
- Take your dog for longer walks regularly. Increasing the time your dog spends walking every day can help them lose weight. An extra fetch game in the backyard or a weekend trip to the dog park might also be in order.
- Try feeding your dog a low-fat diet. Increasing your dog’s daily walking time can help him lose weight. These meals are often high in fiber and low in fat, so your dog can feel full and not gain weight.
- Please consult your veterinarian on your concerns. If you’re concerned about your dog’s weight, it’s better to consult with your veterinarian at the earliest. Veterinarians can examine dogs to understand better what causes obesity in dogs and the pathways to further development.
Remember that weight loss is gradual and is not a one-day process. Losing weight is difficult; drastic dieting can lead to life-threatening liver failure. Instead, be patient and follow a veterinarian-supported diet plan. In most cases, it’s best to focus on losing 1% to 3% of your dog’s weight each month.
What are the other health problems associated with obesity?
Obese dogs are susceptible to other diseases and disorders, which include:
- Kidney Disease
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Hip Dysplasia
- Skin infections
- Difficulty in breathing
How long does it take for the dog to lose weight?
There isn’t any framed period for the weight loss program. Yet, proper training and a healthy diet chart can help your dog in no time. Most dogs reach their proper weight within six to eight months. If the process extends beyond this, you have to alter your approach. An ideal weight loss is between one to five pounds per month, depending on your dog’s size and condition.
Tips to prevent weight gain or Obesity in Dogs
A balanced diet is crucial in a weight loss program. A high-protein, low-carb diet is preferred. Feed your pet high-quality dog food that includes omega-3 and fiber. A healthy diet to shed those extra fats may include:
Put your dog on a routine diet to maintain good shape and prevent obesity. We also suggest giving your pet homemade dog foods for a healthy and nutritious lifestyle. Here are our recipes: Homemade Dog Food Recipes
Proper Exercise Routine
Proper exercise helps dogs lose weight and stimulates them mentally. A daily walk of 10-20 minutes is ideal. The routine may also include outdoor activities, hiking, and adventures.
Invest time in charting a diet plan with the help of your vet that helps your dog lose weight without any hassle. Make sure to track the progress of weight loss and follow the diet. A low-calorie food rich in fiber is highly recommended.
Obesity can seriously cause an array of health disorders in a dog’s overall health. However, there are also many ways to help your dog lose weight. By following the vet’s advice, we can understand the causes of obesity in dogs and find effective strategies for weight loss. Most diet plans include a combination of diet and exercise. It takes a lot of hard work for pet owners and their dogs, but what matters is that your dog is healthy and happy.