It’s dinner time or evening snack and suddenly you are fixed with the look. When those large eyes follow every spoonful, track every snack for a treat it’s almost impossible to resist. As a result, almost 45% of dogs are obese with disabilities ranging from exercise intolerance, breathing difficulties, high blood pressure, diabetes, liver disease and increased chance of malignant cancer. Make a choice for your dog “let’s get healthy!”
- Assess your dog’s weight – Start with the scope of the problem. The best starting point is a visit to the vet for several reasons. First, you want to rule out medical causes for the obesity. Hypothyroidism is a common problem in dogs and it can make losing weight very difficult. Secondly, your vet can assess your dog’s weight and help define a good weight loss plan. At the same time, there are many online resources to help you assess this. Online, PetMD healthy weight calculator to identify a goal weight and a plan for healthy weight loss
- Eat better- Not all dog foods are created equal. Visit Dog Food Advisor for tips on choosing the best dog food for your dog and weight loss. Replace the table scraps and unhealthy treats with carrots, cucumber, broccoli, celery or watermelon. When your dog asks for a treat play a game of fetch or tug of war and replace food with affection.
- Eat less – Decrease your dog’s portions by small amounts and keep track of their weight. The change should be gradual. Measure the precise amount for each meal. Even an extra ounce per day can add up to pounds of extra weight in a small dog.
- Exercise – A daily walk (or two) provides mental stimulation and healthy exercise. Games of fetch help burn calories and build bonding for you and your pet. Walking your dog for weight reduction is not the same as a neighborhood A fast-paced walk mixed with breaks gets the best of both worlds. If your dog is older or obese, consider a pet stroller to create a walk some – ride some – walk some exercise plan.
Research has shown that obesity in dogs can reduce the length of their lives by one to two years and diminish the quality of their lives by illness and disability. Next time your dog fixes you with that “if you loved me you’d share that snack with me” stare, be strong and give them a long and happy life.