We all like to treat our dogs but if the pounds start to creep on and his fitness starts to go down, it becomes a more serious health issue and perhaps time to take your dog to the vet to check his weight and find out if dietary or lifestyle changes are in order.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help get your dog back on track when it comes to health and fitness, so here are our seven tips for helping your dog lose weight:
1. Reduce the calorie intake
If your dog is piling on the pounds, then look at his calorie intake and reduce it. It might be that you are feeding him too often, or too much food so check the portion sizes. You might need to change the type of food he is eating as well.
If you give your dog a lot of extra treats between his meals and things like scraps from your dinner table, these all count as well so your dog might be getting a lot more calories per day than you are realising. But by cutting these down you can make a big difference quite easily.
2. Check your dog’s nutrition
Many commercial dog foods contain extra ingredients that increase calories rather than nutrition so it might be worth switching to a different type of food that is more protein-led rather than carb and calorie heavy.
For Jane, a writer for the site My Itchy Dog, it’s important to consider the opinion of your vet. Your vet can advise on what type of food would work well for your dog to help lose weight while still getting the right levels of nutrition and fitness. If your dog is really struggling, then look at her diet closely and it might even be worth moving away from commercial dog food altogether – some options include:
Homemade dog food
If you have the time and patience and are willing to work with your vet or a pet nutritionist, you could look at cooking your dog’s food yourself. It would be really important to ensure that you are getting all the nutrition right to keep your dog healthy and well.
Tailored fresh dog food
There are also now companies which offer tailored dog food for your dog and fresh dog food delivered to your door, which is another option for adapting your dog’s nutrition and diet which could help him to lose weight.
3. Increase fibre for your dog
Try adding high fibre snacks and food into your dog’s diet for example, carrots, apples and other vegetables, or replace his peanut butter treat with canned pumpkin. There are plenty of ways to add in fibre and provide healthier snacks.
4. Make sure your dog is fully hydrated
When dogs get thirsty, they tend to eat more, so make sure your dog has plenty of water always available, to help keep his diet balanced but also to avoid dehydration which is very bad for his health as well.
5. Don’t use food for rewards
Try replacing treats as rewards, with more fun instead. It’s fine to use the odd treat during training but avoid giving out lots of treats for good behaviour during the day, why not try toys and fun with you instead.
6. Increase their exercise levels
An obvious way to help your dog to reduce weight is to increase their exercise levels. Upping their activity regime will help the weight fall off but also help keep his mind active and give him some more fun time with you as well.
If your dog is really overweight, don’t try to increase his exercise all at once as he won’t be able to cope, you will need to start slowly and then extend the routine by walking further and faster over time to increase his fitness.
7. Be patient
It takes time for an overweight dog to lose weight and regain fitness, so be realistic and don’t expect changes overnight. Be patient and be consistent in the changes with his food and with the gradual increases in exercise and he will make great progress.
If your dog is severely overweight or has any other mobility or health issues, then you should do any weight loss and exercise programme in conjunction with your vet who will also be able to track the weight your dog is losing.
Trying to get your dog fitter and healthier is really the same as when people want to get fitter or lose weight, it takes gradual changes, a consistent approach, time and patience and if you have all of those ingredients together, you will have no problem helping your dog to lose weight.
Just don’t expect too much too soon and don’t give up just because you don’t see immediate changes overnight. Your dog can transform from a plump pooch to a fit hound, just not all in one day.