If the dog is gaining weight gradually, there is nothing to get surprised. Few breeds tend to gain weight over an extended period. However, excessive weight gain may be a serious issue as obesity is a severe health risk in dogs. It includes heart problems, lungs problem, shorter lifespan and strain on the joints. It is a result of intake of too much of food, reduced exercise level, and inactivity.
Tips to Check Weight
To check weight, feel its spine and ribs as it should be readily available with a thin layer of fat separating the skin from the bones. If ribcage is not found quickly, then the pet will be considered an overweight. Additionally, one can contact the veterinarian to know about its optimal weight when it reaches maturity. Anything above 15% of the optimal weight is obese.
Some breeds are slim like German Shepherds, Yorkshire Terriers, Greyhounds, etc. On the other hand, there are breeds which tend to gain weight. Some of them are:
- Scottish Terriers
- Cairn Terriers
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
- Basset Hounds
- Cocker Spaniels
- Golden Retrievers
- Saint Bernards
- Bernese Mountain Dogs
Before starting with any diet food, consult a vet. It will help as there are weight loss programs where the dog is weighed first and given specific instructions on how and what to feed. Firm target and regular weigh-ins allow succeeding faster in losing pet’s weight. However, there are two diets which are recommended, firstly, low fat or high fiber diet which expands stomach giving a full feeling. There are instructions on the package of the quantity according to weight. Secondly, metabolic diets that improve dog’s metabolism. A pet can burn more calories with increased metabolism which will again reduce its weight.
Checking the quantity of the food can contribute to reducing weight. If the dog eats twice a day, weighing the entire amount will make one understand if it is eating correctly. But if it is a slow eater and food is available in its bowl, then it can be a little hard to determine and decide how much to cut down. Dry food packages advise a range of about 300-350 grams per day. Owners with obese pets can opt for the minimum of 300 grams.
After confirming the amount of intake, reduce it by 5 to 10%. For example, if it tastes 300 grams of kibbles every day, decrease the quantity by 30 grams i.e. 270 grams. Check the dog’s weight after 1-2 weeks and if it loses some weight, continue to feed the same amount. On the other hand, if it hasn’t, one needs to decrease the quantity again by 5 – 10%. Owners often worry by looking at the small quantity of food, but it is very healthy when the pet is on a diet. Owners can also feed their canine member with prescription weight loss diet.
With the reduction in primary food and increase in exercise, one needs to support canines with positive encouragement. Offer treats occasionally for positive encouragement. Make sure whatever it eats is healthy and makes it full and gratified. Treat options can include, apples, bananas, runner or French beans, grated vegetables or bran mixed with its food, etc.
Encourage the pet in earning its food or buy a puzzle feeder which can be filled with food as it will allow the dog to move in different shapes in an attempt to acquire the food inside the feeder. It will also make the dog mentally engaged and active. Boredom can have adverse effects, hence try to prevent it while the canine is on a diet, thinking about something else will allow eating less and will facilitate weight loss. Training is also an ideal way to keep it active and occupied. Though, training includes treats, offer some dinner kibbles as rewards with abundant praising.
Monitor Weight Loss
Weighing the dog every week will track the weight loss. It will also show whether the diet is working or not. Hence, you can reevaluate, and in case there is no effect, change the food again. However, there will not be a sudden loss of weight, but it will be very slow and sustainable. Small dogs can lose up to 3- 4 ounces while the larger breeds can lose several pounds per week.
Exercising pets are easy and one can make personalized exercise routines. It requires introduction very gradually if they were inactive previously. The direct introduction can cause joint pains and various health problems. A pet owner may also keep its food bowl or the playing items far away to encourage it to walk.
Small walks are an ideal way to start the exercising regime. Take the pet for short trails near the house or in the dog park where it will not only get physical exercise but will meet other pets keeping it mentally active. Make sure the dog is walking and not sniffing.