Helping Your Dog Reach His Healthiest Potential
Once you’ve determined that your dog is indeed overweight, then it’s time to start the journey toward reaching your dog’s healthiest potential! It’s best to make a visit to your dog’s veterinarian before moving forward. Your vet can conduct blood tests to rule out any other potential medical conditions that could cause the excess fat.
As with any visit to the veterinarian , make sure to bring a good record of your dog’s habits: Eating, sleeping, playing, etc. Jot down any change you’ve noticed and, if possible, when you first noted the weight gain and any changes in diet that have happened since. Usually, nutritionists will advise people trying to lose weight to log what they eat even before making any dietary changes. It may not be such a bad idea to do the same with your pooch. Keeping a journal of his food intake might be a great way to see just how many extra treats and table scraps he’s getting daily. Once it’s all written down, the weight gain might make a lot more sense. This log will also help your vet make some determinations about your dog’s weight gain.
Once you get the clean bill of health and it’s determined that your dog’s weight gain is just too many donuts and not due to a medical condition, your veterinarian will most likely advise you on ways to help your pooch lose weight: Primarily, changing his diet and increasing his exercise.
Start out by keeping track of your dog’s weight. A dog should lose between 3 to 5 percent of his body weight a month. For example, A 50-pound dog should lose about half a pound a week, or 2 pounds a month. You can either take your dog to the vet to be weighed during his weight-loss journey or, if you have a smaller breed, you can hold your dog, step on the scale and subtract your weight from the total.
Keeping track of your dog’s weight will help you figure out if your efforts with changes in her diet or exercise are actually working. Start out by weighing your dog once a week, and once you see steady weight loss you can check monthly.
When you’ve got a good idea of what the weighing routine will be, you can start making changes to your dog’s food.
A Healthier Dog Diet
Make sure that any changes you make to your dog’s diet are done gradually so that you don’t shock his system. As always, before making any changes, be sure to consult with your dog’s veterinarian.
Dogs with weight issues are usually eating dog food incredibly high in carbohydrates. Instead, focus on foods high in protein.
“Protein and carbohydrates supply the same number of calories, but protein is preferentially used to build lean muscle, while carbs are more likely to be stored as body fat,” she writes. “L-carnitine, an amino acid derivative found in meat, fish, and dairy products, helps to burn fat.”
High-protein diets are more satisfying for dogs and that dogs don’t have a nutritional requirement for carbs. The conclusion? Seek out foods high in protein and low in carbohydrates. Find food with a minimum of 25 percent protein, but dog foods even higher in protein are still better.
Limit your dog’s fat intake, but don’t eliminate it entirely. Fat’s one of the best things for satisfying your dog’s appetite, so feed your dog a diet with moderate fat to keep him from trying to sneak food. Too much restriction can even lead some dogs to eat feces to find satisfaction.
It’s better to feed a diet with moderate fat and reduce the portion size as needed, rather than feeding a low-fat diet. A good example is a dog food with 12 to 16 percent fat.
Controlling your dog’s food portions is yet another way to help manage his weight. Most pet parents have no clue what amount they should feed their dog and may seldom bother reading the portion instructions on the bag.
Onto the secret source of weight gain for many dogs – treats! Many store-brand treats are packed with sugar and fat, and he not-so-subtly refers to them as “kibble crack.” For this reason, you should avoid giving too many of them to your dog. Opt instead for healthier treats like baby carrots, broccoli, celery or any other crunchy veggie your dog likes. Veggies and fruits make wonderful snacks.(Please remember no grapes, raisins or onions as they are toxic to your pets) .You can also use a part of your dog’s meal as a treat when training or for any other reason.
Minimize the size of the treat to tiny morsels instead of giving your dog a big chunk of biscuit with every new trick he does. Another option is rewarding your dog with play time or affection instead of treats. Get the whole family involved and make sure that all table scraps stay on the table.
Lastly, put your pooch on a routine. If you set a specific feeding time and stay consistent, your dog’s less likely to beg at all times of the day if he’s used to getting food throughout the day. Decide on a time of day – twice a day is usually best – and put out half of your dog’s food portion each time.
You can also help your pooch along the way by making sure his nutritional needs are met with a multivitamin.
Please remember to call us with any questions you may have regarding your pet’s diet or exercise needs. Feel free to stop by and weigh your pet!